Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Dan Jones: Moving to the next chapter in the Indian trust saga





"To attempt to appeal the Cobell settlement decision as unfair was an honorable and brave thing for you to do as far as I am concerned. Not a very popular position in the face of the government announcing they intend to blast money across Indian country with cannons. That’s the government’s strategy for hiding accountability.

After reading your appeal and the press around it, let’s start with the attorneys who were representing us in Cobell. They sent your address and phone number to as many of the 500,000 class members as they could, saying they should ask you what your motives were in appealing. Was that a new low, as reported? Your appeal would limit the attorney fees to $50 million instead of the $235 million they will receive. That seems fair to me for people who basically lost the case. Was there a conflict of interest in this case as the attorneys had full control of the settlement? As you ask, “Why was the case settled for $3.4 billion when there was an offer by the government for a 7 billion dollar settlement four years ago?” Was it that the attorney fees were limited in the larger settlement? Your appeal speaks of the fairness of the attorneys taking so much of the pie: “This is especially true here, where class counsel brought litigation they claimed was worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars, but settled for pennies on the dollar: that is a loss, not a win, and class counsel is not entitled to a windfall for their lack of success.”"

Get the Story:
Dan Jones: An Open Letter to Kimberly Crave, Esq., on the Appeal of the Cobell Settlement (Indian Country Today 8/13)