Law | Trust

Federal judge dismisses Freedmen historical accounting lawsuit






Leatrice Tanner-Brown is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the federal government. Photo from Facebook

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought a historical accounting of trust funds allegedly owed to descendants of former African slaves in Oklahoma.

Leatrice Tanner-Brown sued the Interior Department on behalf of herself and other Freedmen descendants. She wanted to know how much money was allegedly collected for oil, gas and other activities on allotments that were given to Freedmen ancestors.

Judge Rudolph Contreras, however, said Brown failed to demonstrate standing. Although Brown's grandfather, who was was enrolled as a Freedman with the Cherokee Nation, received an allotment, she wasn't suing on behalf of his estate and could not explain how she "personally" suffered from any alleged actions at DOI.

"Courts have rejected the notion that a plaintiff can suffer an injury for purposes of constitutional standing simply by virtue of an injury suffered by her ancestors," Contreras wrote in the 19-page decision.

The other plaintiff in the case is The Harvest Institute.

Get the Story:
No Dice for Families of Native Americans' Slaves (Courthouse News Service 2/2)

District Court Decision:
Brown v. Jewell (January 27, 2016)

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