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.
A round number
Do you have any idea how many claimants there are, right now? A round number?
“Here, we’re talking about potential claimants. But there were 58,000 people who tried to get into Pigford I and missed the initial deadline of Oct. 12, 1999. They sent in a letter saying ‘I missed the deadline, I was sick’ or ‘I didn’t know about the case’ or something like that. But their request was turned down. So, there are 58,000 people who specifically had their requests turned down.
“There were others who sent in requests that were never acted upon. The reason they weren’t acted upon is the initial deadline – what we call the ‘late filing request’ – was Sept. 15, 2000. There were many people who sent in requests after Sept. 15, 2000, all the way up to June of 2008 saying ‘Hey, I want to get in.’ Those (requests) weren’t acted upon because they were after the late filing request deadline of Sept. 15, 2000, that was set by the court.
“So, you’ve got two groups: the 58,000 and the second group of an unknown number – probably somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 – who, between September 2000 and June 2008, also sent in requests.
“So, that brings the possible total up to, possibly, 78,000 to 80,000 (claimants). Those are very rough numbers.”
Have you heard when the judge will conduct the ‘fairness hearing’?
“As counsel in the case, we’ve not yet filed a request with the judge to approve the settlement. The reason for that is when the Senate approved funding for this back in November there were changes the Senate required. We’re trying to finalize those changes in the settlement agreement with the government. That hasn’t been concluded. “
How long have you been on the Pigford case? Were you with Alexander Pires?
“He’s my partner, since 1997.”