Claim forms due in Sept. for Cobell fund settlement


Judge Thomas Hogan issued an order on July 27 granting final approval to the $3.4 billion

       settlement for the Cobell trust fund lawsuit.

The order follows the decision he issued from the bench at the June 20 fairness hearing. He awarded $99 million in attorneys fees and approved incentive payments for Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, and three other named plaintiffs.

Every beneficiary will automatically receive a $1,000 payment as part of the Historical Accounting Class. The order does not indicate when the money will be disbursed but it will likely occur after the appeal period for Hogan’s order ends on September 26.

The order sets out another important deadline for the settlement. Beneficiaries who want a payment from the Trust Administration Class must file a claim form by September 16.

Beneficiaries will find out by November 4 whether they are eligible. Those who want a reconsideration must file one by December 5.

One final appeal is allowed by February 6, 2012. The order does not indicate when payments from the Trust Administration Class will be disbursed.

The Trust Administration Class is based on the income that a beneficiary has collected in his or her Individual Indian Money (IIM) account. The minimum payment will be $800 but some might receive hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to Hogan’s order, 1,824 people opted out of the Trust Administration Class. The majority are members of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma who have filed their own trust mismanagement lawsuit.