April 20, 2016

On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan approved the creation of a cy pres fund that will serve Native American farmers and ranchers, in turn redistributing $380 million left unclaimed in the 2010 Keepseagle v. Vilsack civil rights litigation settlement. The landmark settlement required the USDA to pay $680 million in damages to thousands of Native Americans, to forgive up to $80 million in outstanding farm loan debt, and to improve the farm loan services USDA provides to Native Americans. Much of the 2010 settlement went unspent after far fewer people than expected brought successful claims. Cohen Milstein's Joseph M. Sellers, counsel for the plaintiffs, said that this agreement is the best option available given that the USDA did not consent to distributing all the remaining funds to individual class members alone, and there were thousands of potential class members who did not qualify, for various reasons, for a portion of the funds during the claims period.

Keepseagle v. Vilsack was originally filed in 1999 and alleged that the Agriculture Department discriminated against Native Americans in loan programs from 1981 to 1999.

Court Order - April 20, 2016

Related Articles

Judge approves $380 million change to landmark 2010 Native American farm suit
Washington Post
April 20, 2016

Payout Plan OK'd For $380M Left From Native Farmers' Deal
Law360
April 20, 2016