COBELL DECISION SAYS IIM ACCOUNT HOLDERS OWED $455.6 MILLION
Judge James Robertson decided on August 7th that the United States failed to disburse $455.6 million to individual Indians with IIM accounts, an amount less than 1% of the $47 billion the Cobell plaintiffs were seeking. The Court left for a later date the question of how and to whom the funds would be distributed.
In an attempt to increase potential damages in Cobell, the Plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought to have funds in the Osage Nation's tribal trust account reclassified as individual Indian monies. The Osage Nation sought and was granted limited intervention in the case for the purpose of defending the Osage Nation's ownership of the mineral estate and the tribal trust account. In the August 7th decision, the Court agreed with the Osage Nation that funds in the Osage tribal trust account are tribal funds until distributed to headright holders. This ruling in favor of the Osage Nation protects its case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which that seeks redress for mismanagement of funds from the Osage mineral estate that would be paid to headright holders.
The Court also ruled that only headright holders whose headright funds are paid into an IIM account are part of the plaintiff class.
Lead plaintiff Eloise Cobell has indicated that she will appeal this decision.
Osage Nation attorneys Wilson Pipestem and Merrill Godfrey discussed the Cobell decision at a public meeting on August 7th.
A video recording of the meeting can be viewed on the Osage Nation website.