Cobell v. Salazar Indian Trust Settlement Deadline Approaches
By Kimberly Mirando
The court-ordered process of notifying American Indians of their legal rights in the historic $3.4 billion class action settlement of Cobell v. Salazar is coming to a close. Class members of the Indian Trust settlement have until April 20 to decide if they wish to remain in the class action settlement.
The Indian Trust settlement will provide $1.5 billion to compensate an estimated 500,000 individual Indian trust beneficiaries who have or had Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts or hold an interest in trust or restricted land. The settlement resolves claims that the federal government violated its trust duties to these beneficiaries.
There are two classes eligible to receive money from the Cobell v. Salazar settlement fund:
The Historical Accounting Class comprises individual Indians who were alive on Sept. 30, 2009, who had an open IIM account anytime between Oct. 25, 1994 and Sept. 30, 2009, and whose account had at least one cash transaction.
The Trust Administration Class comprises individual Indians alive on Sept. 30, 2009, who had an IIM account at any time from 1985 through Sept. 30, 2009, recorded in currently available electronic data in federal government systems, as well as individual Indians who, as of Sept. 30, 2009, had a recorded or demonstrable interest in land held in trust or restricted status.
Class members who received a formal notice in the mail about the Cobell v. Salazar class action settlement and who are receiving IIM account statements do not have to do anything to receive payment. Individuals who believe they should be part of the settlement but did not receive a notice in the mail or are not receiving IIM account statements need to fill out a claim form as soon as possible, available at the Indian Trust website www.IndianTrust.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-961-6109.
Class members who wish to keep their rights to sue the federal government over mismanagement claims covered by the Cobell v. Salazar settlement must exclude themselves from the settlement by April 20. Class members can also submit written comments or objections about any settlement terms that concern them by April 20.
For more information on your rights in the Cobell v. Salazar class action lawsuit settlement, go to www.IndianTrust.com.
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