A federal court in Washington, D.C., has reportedly refused to reconsider its denial of hundreds of claims by African-American farmers who alleged that they were owed a share of the $1.25-billion settlement fund established to compensate a class of farmers allegedly discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) loan application process. In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litig., No. 08-0511 (u.s. Dist. Ct., D.D.C., order entered March 5, 2014). Information about the lawsuit and a dispute over attorney’s fees appears in Issue 490 of this Update. According to a news source, the court determined that it lacked authority to alter the terms of the settlement agreement, which provided that claims determinations would be considered final and not subject to court review.
“This may be cold comfort to claimants who feel that their claims were denied in error; but without the settlement Agreement, the amount of relief attainable by members of the plaintiff class would have been less than ten percent of what has actually been made available to the class under the settlement,” the court said. Many non-prevailing claimants reportedly alleged that their claims were wrongfully denied on the grounds that they failed to timely complain about discrimination or failed to apply for usDA assistance within the relevant time period. See The National Law Journal, March 6, 2014.