UPDATE 5/14/14: More than 30,000 Class Members of the Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust class action settlement are still awaiting payments. Class Counsel explains why.
The Claims Administrator for the Cobell v. Salazar Indian Trust class action settlement has announced that the second round of payments will be mailed early next year.
The announcement further stated that the settlement approved by Congress and the Courts “requires identification of all Trust Administration Class Members and calculation of their respective shares by the Department of Interior” before The Garden City Group (GCG), the Claims Administrator assigned to distribute benefits, can start mailing Trust Administration Class payments. This task is near completion, according to the announcement.
After Class Members are identified and finalized, it will take the Department of Interior approximately a month to complete the calculations for the over 500,000 Trust Administration Class Members. Once GCG receives the final computations and the Court approves, the Claims Administrator will “quickly prepare and commence distribution within three weeks.”
If the class membership is determined this December, the payments can then be made in the first quarter of 2014 barring any unexpected issues.
The Cobell v. Salazar settlement was one of the largest class actions ever filed against the United States. It accused the government of allegedly mismanaging money owed to Native Americans under trust funds. The alleged mismanagement dated as far back as the 1880s. The first payments were sent out last December 2012 before Christmas.
The Indian trust class action lawsuit was originally settled in December 2009 and later approved by Congress in November 2010. An appeal was filed and the case was held up in court for nearly two years. In May 2012, an appeals court rejected the appeal and upheld the $3.4 billion Indian trust settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate. On Dec. 12, 2012, the court filed an order directing the Claims Administrator to commence distribution of payments to Class Members no later than Dec. 24, 2012.
The class action settlement provided $1.4 billion to pay recipients listed under the Historical Accounting Class and the Trust Administration Class, $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated individual Indian trust lands and up to $60 million for a scholarship fund to help Native Americans attend college or vocational school.
Reports state there are 34,786 Navajo allottees listed in the Trust Administration Class who will split $49.5 million for this second round of payments. Each one will receive $800 but may be higher for some.
More information on the Cobell v. Salazar Indian Trust Class Action Lawsuit Settlement can be found at www.IndianTrust.com.
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