Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Cobell settlement cleared after Supreme Court dismisses appeal





Payments from the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund settlement could go out soon now that the U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed the last appeal.

Charles Colombe, Carol Eve Good Bear and Mary Lee Johns challenged the settlement as unfair. But they voluntarily withdrew their petition and the justices dismissed it on Tuesday, according to Docket No. 12-355.

The three gave up their appeal after the Cobell team agreed to pay their attorney's fees and expenses. The money will come out of the fees the Cobell team is receiving for handling the case.

The development will test the Obama administration's pledge to get payments in the hand of Indian beneficiaries by the end of the year. In an interview last month, Secretary Ken Salazar said the Interior Department was ready to move quickly.

"We're going to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the Supreme Court makes a decision," Salazar said in an interview during the National Congress of American Indians 69th annual convention.

The settlement distributes $1.412 billion to hundreds of thousands of Indian beneficiaries. Most will receive $1,800 but some will receive much more, depending on the type of activity in their trust account.

Another $1.9 billion will be used to buy fractionated interests from willing landowners, offering beneficiaries another way to receive a share of the settlement.

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