Richard Monette testified recently in the government's $3.4 billion plan to settle with American Indians over mismanaged royalties. As reported in an Associated Press article, the plaintiffs' attorneys may be "stonewalling" a congressional panel as they ask a judge to more than double their fees in the case.
Monette, a UW Law professor and former tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, said the plaintiffs' attorneys should have revealed it to Congress and others in the lawsuit if they had some kind of agreement to recover more than $99.9 million in fees.
"We unnamed class members are owed huge obligations when a class settlement is made," he said.
In his testimony, Monette emphasized that financial reward was never the Plaintiffs' goal. After nearly thirteen years, the Plaintiffs got a judgment from the Trial Court for 455 million dollars and a ruling that an accounting could not be done. However, the Trial Court's decision was appealed, and the Court of Appeals vacated, set aside the 455 million dollar award and ruled that an accounting could be done.
"Ironically," said Monette, "the ruling from the Court of Appeals could be considered a win, since an accounting is what the IIM account holders actually wanted--no money, but an accounting."
Monette was one of two people--including Patricia Douville of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota--who testified before the panel. Both said they believe the attorney fees should be capped.
To access the original article, click here.
To watch the hearing webcast, go here.
Submitted by UW Law News on May 3, 2011
This article appears in the categories: In the Media