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Judge Approves $3.4 Billion Settlement of Native American Suit

AP
Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Attorney General Eric Holder is at right.

Even after the Wal-Mart ruling, class actions are still alive and well. At least one is.

Federal judge Thomas Hogan yesterday approved a $3.4 billion settlement in a class action that alleged U.S. officials mismanaged Indian royalties.

The class-action settlement was the largest ever approved against the U.S. government, the AP reports. The case was also unusually complicated, generating more than 20 published judicial opinions and numerous appellate-court hearings, as we noted earlier.

Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell claimed that for more than a century, U.S. officials systematically stole or squandered billions in royalties intended for American Indians in exchange for oil, gas, grazing and other leases, according to AP.

Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, will receive $2 million, and three other named plaintiffs will receive payments ranging from $150,000 to $200,000 each, AP reports. The judge also awarded Cobell’s legal team $99 million, which some criticized as . . .

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