Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Cobell plaintiffs oppose attorney fees for NARF for work on case





The plaintiffs in the Cobell trust fund lawsuit say the Native American Rights Fund should not be awarded attorney's fees and expenses as part of the $3.4 billion settlement to the case.

Along with lead counsel Dennis Gingold, an independent practitioner, NARF has worked on the case since it was filed in 1996. However, a July 30 notice that was filed in federal court argues that NARF's work on tribal trust lawsuits began without the consent of the Cobell plaintiffs.

"Thus, by accepting these tribal representations without the consent of the Class Representatives and dropping the Cobell plaintiffs at a critical juncture in this litigation in order to represent the tribes, NARF put itself in the lucrative position to receive much greater fees than it could have ever hoped to receive in this litigation," the plaintiffs state. NARF has represented 23 tribes that reached settlements for a total of $349.6 million.

The plaintiffs also note that the late Elouise Cobell had entered into a written agreement with NARF in which the organization "disavowed contingent fees"

Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation, has worked on the case since his days at NARF. He now works at Kilpatrick Stockton, which represented three tribes that reached trust settlements with the Obama administration.

Get the Story:
Cobell and NARF Lawyers Battle Over Money (Indian Country Today 8/8)

Related Stories:
Nez Perce Tribe donates $3M to NARF for work on trust fund case (07/30)
Law firm for Cobell case also worked on tribal trust settlements (06/04)