Cobell Class Members question settlement, attorney conduct

Native American Times reports on Ted Frank's objection to a case that did not compensate class members fairly, because those who suffered the most get the same or less compensation than those who did not suffer much or even at all.

Another appeal is from Class Member Kimberly Craven, Sissten-Wahpeton Oyate, who is represented by Ted Frank, an attorney with the non-profit Center for Class Action Fairness located in Washington, D.C. The Craven brief was complete Jan. 6 and oral argument is scheduled for Feb. 16 in Washington, D.C. before a three judge panel.

Frank said Craven believes the settlement is illegal and it’s in the best interest of the Indian community that it be overturned. He said the Historical Accounting Class is not giving Class Members an opportunity to opt out if they feel their right to an injunction is more valuable than the monetary relief. In addition the structure of the settlement payments contradict what the D.C. circuit said would be permissible in earlier Cobell litigation, because it’s not rationally related to the damages Class Members have suffered, he said.

“So you have a problem that Class Members who have suffered the most injury are getting the same as or less than Class Members who have suffered no injury at all,” Frank said. “(Also) There’s the problem of conflict of interest created by the fact that Ms. Cobell negotiated a settlement that would pay $12.5 million dollars to herself.”

Read the full article at the Native American Times.