your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Judge can't reopen Keepseagle case after $380M goes unspent

Filed Under: Law | National
More on: dc, discrimination, doj, keepseagle, law firms, usda

Indian farmers and ranchers held a protest outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., last December. Photo from Association of American Indian Farmers / Facebook

A federal judge said he can't reopen the Keepseagle settlement even though Indian farmers and ranchers received only half of $680 million promised to them.

The Obama administration reached the settlement in October 2010 to address discrimination at the Department of Agriculture. But in what Judge Emmet Sullivan described as a "monumental" failure, only about 3,600 Indian farmers and ranchers received payments.

"This case was not an abstract legal dispute," Sullivan observed in a 70-page decision issued on Friday. "It was a major class-action seeking to remedy what many felt was the latest chapter in the federal government’s sordid history of mistreating Native Americans."

Despite the significance of the settlement, Sullivan said he was bound a provision that requires leftover money to be distributed to groups that assist farmers and ranchers in Indian Country. He denied a motion to authorize another round of payments, as requested by lead plaintiff Marilyn Keepsagle and her husband.

The judge also denied a motion create a new trust fund to distribute the $380 million in cy pres funds, a request of attorneys who represented the plaintiffs and the Department of Justice.

Sullivan, who heard directly from Indian ranchers and farmers at an all-day hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 29, acknowledged that his decision satisfies no one.

"Contrary to the Keepseagles’s wishes, the funds would remain entirely for charitable distribution," Sullivan wrote. "Contrary to the goals of class counsel and the government, that charitable distribution would be pursuant to the arguably inefficient procedures that were designed to handle a much smaller amount of money."

But while Sullivan said it was "unclear" why the claims process failed, he wondered why the federal government won't support a reopening of the process.

"Over half of the class’s damages would be distributed to third parties, despite the relative ease with which class members could be identified, the claims process reopened, and previously successful claimants permitted to prove that they suffered damages in excess of the compensation they have obtained," Sullivan wrote.

Reopening the process would require additional talks, Sullivan said. The Keepseagles are open to negotiations, their attorney told The National Law Journal.

The attorneys who handled the case on behalf of the plaintiffs are also open to talks, the Journal reported. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

Get the Story:
Judge Laments 'Monumental' Failure After $380M Goes Unspent in Class Action The National Law Journal 7/24)

District Court Decision:
Keepseagle v. Vilsack (July 24, 2015)

Settlement Documents:
Plaintiffs Press Release | Settlement | Notice Form A | Notice Form B
Damages Award | Loan Debt Relief | Native American Farmers and Ranchers Council | Named Plaintiffs | President Obama Statement | USDA Press Release

Related Stories:
Marshall Matz: Fight for $380M in Keepseagle funds continues (07/01)
Indian farmers rally over $380M in unspent Keepseagle funds (6/29)
Indian farmers protest foundation with $380M Keepseagle funds (12/04)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (09/30)
Native Sun News: Indian farmers question Keepseagle attorneys (08/22)
Details announced for meetings about $380M Keepseagle fund (07/17)
Keepseagle attorneys schedule meetings to discuss $380M fund (7/8)
USDA questions plan to create $380M Keepseagle foundation (09/18)
Opinion: Keepseagle foundation boosts farmers and ranchers (9/13)
Choctaw Nation seeks $58.5M from Keepseagle for foundation (9/6)
Keepseagle foundation would share $380M with Indian Country (9/3)
Magazine: Farmers hope for new era with USDA settlement (8/27)
Most of Indian farmer discrimination settlement goes unspent (04/26)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Federal court blocks attempt to condemn lands on Navajo Nation (5/26)
Bill removes blood quantum requirement for Five Civilized Tribes (5/26)
Mark Trahant: Voting is just sooo hard in the era of Donald Trump (5/26)
Ryan Benally: Bears Ears was false promise for Native Americans (5/26)
Adrian Jawort: Should non-Natives ever write about our people? (5/26)
Native turnout fails to sway closely-watched election in Montana (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee council ousts chief for only 2nd time in history (5/26)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe into election season with crowded field (5/26)
Lacrosse documentary 'Pride of a Nation' opens to strong reviews (5/26)
Seminole Tribe working hard to rid new casino of Trump's influence (5/26)
Lawmakers once again seek fixes to 'broken' Indian Health Service (5/25)
Secretary Zinke headed to National Congress of American Indians (5/25)
Bureau of Indian Affairs opens listening sessions on reorganization (5/25)
Kevin Washburn: Indian Country feels the pain with Donald Trump (5/25)
Yakama Nation landowners weigh offers as buy-back winds down (5/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant found not guilty (5/25)
Secretary Zinke plans to work with tribes on drilling push in Alaska (5/25)
Republican candidate to replace Ryan Zinke charged with assault (5/25)
Democrats drop Andrew Jackson from name of event in Arkansas (5/25)
Chickasaw Nation breaks ground on $10M casino by Texas border (5/25)
Washoe Tribe celebrates 1st anniversary of unique gaming facility (5/25)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community shares update on casino work (5/25)
Trump administration ready to let Cobell program run out of funds (5/24)
Northwest tribes slam Trump's budget for cuts to Indian programs (5/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe finds one bright spot in Trump's budget (5/24)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe reports jury conviction of non-Indian offender (5/24)
YES! Magazine: Native birthing center maintains tribal traditions (5/24)
Peter d'Errico: Founding Fathers conspired to take land from tribes (5/24)
Eastern Cherokee chief questions fairness of impeachment hearing (5/24)
Another guilty plea in theft of gaming funds from Winnebago Tribe (5/24)
Tribes clear legislative hurdle in bid for new casino in Connecticut (5/24)
President Trump confirms Indian Country's worst fears with budget (5/23)
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.