Jana M. Berger, a partner in Foley & Mansfield’s Detroit, Michigan office, recently secured more than $980,000.00 in damages and debt relief for Native American claimants pursuing settlement funds in the Keepseagle v Vilsak class action lawsuit.
The Keepsagle v Vilsak lawsuit involved claims by Native Americans against the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) as a result of discriminatory lending practices during the 1980’s and 1990’s with regard to its farm loan program. The lawsuit alleged that the USDA denied thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers the same opportunities to get farm loans and loan servicing that otherwise were given to white farmers and ranchers.
An unprecedented $760 million settlement was reached between the federal government and the class, with settlement distributions made in late August 2012.
“Listening to the stories … it was jaw-dropping to hear what my clients were put through. While the figures look rewarding, there’s really little that can heal the emotional scars left by the deplorable treatment these folks received at the hands of the USDA. You can just hear it in their voices,” explains Ms. Berger. “I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to participate and to assist my clients with gathering and submitting proofs to establish their claims to settlement funds.”