Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Claim forms due September 16 for $3.4B trust fund settlement

Judge Thomas Hogan issued an order on July 27 granting final approval to the $3.4 billion settlement for the Cobell trust fund lawsuit.

The order follows the decision he issued from the bench at the June 20 fairness hearing. He awarded $99 million in attorneys fees and approved incentive payments for Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, and three other named plaintiffs.

Every beneficiary will automatically receive a $1,000 payment as part of the Historical Accounting Class. The order does not indicate when the money will be disbursed but it will likely occur after the appeal period for Hogan's order ends on September 26.

The order sets out another important deadline for the settlement. Beneficiaries who want a payment from the Trust Administration Class must file a claim form by September 16.

Beneficiaries will find out by November 4 whether they are eligible. Those who want a reconsideration must file one by December 5.

One final appeal is allowed by February 6, 2012. The order does not indicate when payments from the Trust Administration Class will be disbursed.

The Trust Administration Class is based on the income that a beneficiary has collected in his or her Individual Indian Money (IIM) account. The minimum payment will be $800 but some might receive hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to Hogan's order, 1,824 people opted out of the Trust Administration Class. The majority are members of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma who have filed their own trust mismanagement lawsuit.

With the payments anticipated in the coming months, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an alert to Indian beneficiaries on Friday. It warns people that they might be targeted by scams.

"Recipients of highly-publicized payouts often become targets for investment fraud," the alert states.

Get the Story:
SEC: Scams may target $3.4B Indian settlement (AP 7/29)

Relevant Documents:
Order Granting Final Approval To Settlement | Exhibit A and Exhibit B

Related Stories:
Jodi Rave: Milestone as judge approves $3.4B Cobell settlement (07/25)
Opinion: Cobell settlement closes an unsavory chapter in history (07/15)
Interview with attorney Elliott Levitas about Cobell settlement (7/13)
Transcript posted from fairness hearing for Cobell trust fund case (7/7)
Ken Salazar: Cobell settlement a big step toward trust reform (06/28)
Letter: Attorneys take excessive fees in trust fund settlement (6/28)
Editorial: Victory with $3.4B settlement of Indian trust lawsuit (6/27)
WPR: Lac du Flambeau chair hopes BIA improves trust system (6/27)
Upwards of 30K in Arizona to share in $3.4B Cobell settlement (6/27)
In These Times: Fractionation a big issue in Cobell settlement (6/27)
Ben Carnes: Cobell settlement a knife in Indian people's backs (6/22)
Blog: Crime of the century with Indian trust fund management (6/22)
Judge approves $3.4B settlement in Cobell trust fund lawsuit (6/21)
Schedule for fairness hearing for Cobell trust fund settlement (6/20)
Quapaw Tribe tries to opt out of Cobell trust fund settlement (6/20)
Judge to hold fairness hearing for Cobell trust fund settlement (6/17)
Jerilyn DeCoteau: Cobell settlement just doesn't feel right (6/6)
Fairness hearing in Cobell settlement scheduled for June 20 (5/26)

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