What is in this article?:
- Pigford leading class counsel speaks on deadlines, eligibility requirements and fraud allegations.
- Keepseagle case against USDA still open to new claimants.
- 75,000-plus Pigford claimants expected but number will shrink when cases scrutinized.
Let me ask you about the other discrimination cases against USDA: Garcia (Hispanics), Love (women), and Keepseagle (Native Americans). Are you involved with any of those?
“I’m one of the counsels in Keepseagle. I’m not in Garcia or Love.”
On where Keepseagle stands…
“In that case, there is a settlement agreement: $760 million in compensation and debt relief. Judge Sullivan (of the U.S. District Court in D.C.) has given preliminary approval to that settlement. There will be a fairness hearing on April 28, 2011, when the judge decides to give final approval or changes need to be made.”
The Pigford settlement is structured around two claimant options. Winning a Track A claim is easier and means a $50,000 payment, loan forgiveness, and prime future loan positioning. Each case is heard by an adjudicator. The overwhelming majority of claimants go with Track A.
Track B claims are reserved for those wanting more than the awards listed above. Evidence requirements are much more stringent than with Track A cases. Winners of Track B cases, however, stand to get millions of dollars along with loan forgiveness and other considerations.
Is the Keepseagle settlement set up like Pigford’s Track A/TrackB?
“Yes. It’s similar.”
Is Keepseagle closed to new claimants?
“The claims process has not begun.
“Keepseagle is not like Pigford II where we had to deal with the issue of late claims being filed. This is the first settlement of the (Keepseagle) case.
“So, any Native American who satisfies the eligibility requirements, which are similar to Pigford – the ‘individual farmed or attempted to farm’ from 1981 through 1986, tried to get a loan from USDA and, in some manner, was treated unfairly (like) the loan was denied or loan terms were unfair, and made a complaint about discrimination – may, and we hope will, file claims. I’m sure there are many we haven’t heard from yet.”