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"A Public Letter From the Cobell Lawyers Prompts Ethics and Harassment Concerns"



In the Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust class action settlement, class counsel made unrealistic promises to the class about when money from that settlement would be distributed. With over four separate appeals, including one from my client, Kimberly Craven, and post-fairness-hearing motions about whether the lead representative plaintiff, Elouise Cobell, was personally entitled to another $10.5 million from the settlement fund, the money has not yet been distributed, and class members are asking questions, including why there are appeals. Class counsel could simply make the briefing publicly available, or even summarize their arguments against the appeal. Instead, they announced falsely January 20 that the appealing objectors "each believes that you are not entitled to the relief (nor the payment of your trust funds) that has been provided in the settlement agreement," and then provided the addresses and phone numbers of the appellants and invited the hundreds of thousands of class members to contact the objectors. (The allegation is especially ironic, given that it is the class counsel who has defended the settlement approval and their $99 million fee (and $2.5 million in incentive payments to the class representatives) by arguing that class members are not entitled to anything, so anything they get makes the settlement fair, notwithstanding objectors' claims of intra-class conflicts and complaints that the settlement violates Wal-Mart v. Dukes in multiple ways.)

Fortunately for the cause of justice, the appellants are not so easily silenced by such unprecedented intimidation tactics. I'm quoted in two of the stories. [Indian Country Today; AP/WaPo; Lincoln Journal-Star]

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.