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Case Name Keepseagle v. Vilsack FH-DC-0009
Docket / Court 1:99-cv-03119 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Case Summary
On November 24, 1999, Plaintiffs first filed this lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs, Native American farmers who alleged they were victims of discriminatory lending practices by the USDA, brought suit ... read more >
On November 24, 1999, Plaintiffs first filed this lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs, Native American farmers who alleged they were victims of discriminatory lending practices by the USDA, brought suit under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §2201, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15, U.S.C. §1691. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that the USDA's Farm Service Agency ("FSA") had failed to respond to investigation reports submitted by the Civil Rights Action Team and the Office of the Inspector General, which found widespread discriminatory lending practices against Native American farmers. According to the reports, the FSA utilized subjective interpretations of loan approval guidelines improperly to the detriment of Native American farmers, failed to advise Native Americans of the availability of USDA loan and loan servicing opportunities, and systematically erected barriers that prevented Native Americans from receiving loans or loan servicing. Plaintiffs claimed that the USDA failed to supervise in response to these reports, and failed to investigate the civil rights complaints that its office received in response to those discriminatory practices. The "Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999," 7 U.S.C. §2279, waived the statute of limitations for these civil rights claims, normally barred after two years. Plaintiff sought (1) declaratory judgment that the USDA had violated their rights to equal credit, participation in loan programs, and full and timely enforcement of discrimination complaints, and (2) monetary compensation and injunctive relief from the discriminatory practices outlined above.

On July 22, 2000, the U.S. moved for judgment on the pleadings, or in the alternative, summary judgment. Plaintiffs moved on October 11, 2000 for a preliminary injunction. However, District Court Judge Emmitt G. Sullivan denied both motions on June 18, 2001.

On November 28, 2001, Judge Sullivan granted certification of the class. 2001 WL 34676944. This class was described as "[a]ll Native American farmers and ranchers who (1) framed or ranched between January 1, 1981, and November 24, 1999, (2) applied to the USDA for participation in a farm program during that time period, and (3) filed a discrimination complaint with the USDA individually or through a representative during the time period." The U.S. filed an interlocutory appeal of the class certification with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and asked the District Court to stay the case pending the appeal on December 18, 2002. Judge Sullivan denied the motion to stay on December 28. The interlocutory appeal was denied by the Court of Appeals on October 29, 2002 (Judge David S. Tatel). 309 F.3d 789.

On December 5, 2003, Judge Sullivan granted a motion by class-member Phil Givens to opt out of the class. In response, the Plaintiff class sought reversal by the Court of Appeals, petitioning the Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus on February 9, 2004, but the petition was denied in a per curiam opinion on March 3, 2004.

On March 23, 2006, Judge Sullivan entered an order granting the motions by multiple involuntary members to opt out of the class and pursue individual relief. 236 F.R.D. 1. Plaintiffs submitted their eighth amended (and final) complaint on February 11, 2008.

On December 19, 2010, the parties notified the court that they had reached a settlement, and on December 22, Plaintiffs moved for preliminary approval of the settlement and settlement agreement class certification. Judge Sullivan granted the preliminary approval on November 1, 2010, and granted final approval of the settlement agreement on April 28, 2011. On April 29, 2011, Judge Sullivan entered an order of final judgment, dismissing this action with prejudice. This began the 180-day period of the settlement agreement claims process, ending on October 26, 2011.

The settlement agreement created a total compensation fund of $680,000,000. In exchange for Plaintiffs' agreement to dismiss the suit, Defendants agreed to suspend all collection efforts that were currently in the Service Center Information Management System or on individuals who file claims pursuant to the agreement. In addition, all members of the class would be able to make a claim to an appointed "claim administrator," who would make its best effort to make a determination on the claim within 10 days. These claims would be in one of two tracks: "Track A" required "substantial evidence" of discrimination, and awarded a liquidated damage amount of $50,000. "Track B" claims required more--a preponderance of the evidence of discrimination--and could pay an award up to $250,000. If any claimant was also making a claim in response to the Pigford v. Glickman or Garcia v. Vilsack settlements, that individual was not eligible for a claim award in this settlement. The deadline for claims under the settlement agreement was set at 180 days after final approval of settlement agreement. Additional provisions of the settlement included: the USDA agreed to create a Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (responsible for transmitting recommendations concerning changes to FSA regulations or internal guidance that would eliminate barriers to program participation by Native Americans), create an ombudsperson for Native Americans and other socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and commence a review of their policies and training materials, promising to make all necessary revisions to prevent further discriminatory behavior.

Dan Osher - 06/27/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Provide antidiscrimination training
Defendant-type
Bank or credit provider
Discrimination-area
Lending
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Causes of Action Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. § 1691
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Agriculture
Plaintiff Description All Native American farmers and ranchers who (1) framed or ranched between January 1, 1981, and November 24, 1999, (2) applied to the USDA for participation in a farm program during that time period, and (3) filed a discrimination complaint with the USDA individually or through a representative during the time period.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2011 - 2011
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:99-cv-03119-EGS (D.D.C.) 12/28/2012
FH-DC-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order (Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order) 08/31/2000 (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order (Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Proposed Order) 12/12/2001 (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
In re: Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture, Petitioner. 10/29/2002 (309 F.3d 789)
FH-DC-0009-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion & Order (Granting in part and Denying in part Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings) 03/31/2005 (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion (Granting Movants' Motion) 03/23/2006 (236 F.R.D. 1) (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Eighth Amended Complaint (Class Action) 02/08/2008
FH-DC-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 11/01/2010
FH-DC-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Bryant, William Benson (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0005
Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-0006 | FH-DC-0009-0007 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit)
FH-DC-0009-0008
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Amunson, Jessica Ring (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Apfel, Carrie F. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Brody, Michael L. (Illinois)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Coleman, Llezlie Green (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Fallow, Katherine A. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Fraas, Philip L (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Francis, James N. (Texas)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Frantz, David Joseph (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Goodman, Robert E. Jr. (Texas)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Green, Llezlie Lloren (New York)
FH-DC-0009-0001
Harding, Ryan K. (Illinois)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Hirsch, Sam (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Howell, Richard L. (Texas)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Kirschner, Greg (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Malveaux, Suzette Marie (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Myart, James W Jr. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Nugent, Victoria S. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Pires, Alexander John Jr. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Romer-Friedman, Peter (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Tenny, Daniel (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Tompkins, Charles Edgar (Massachusetts)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Varma, Anurag (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Vogel, Sarah (North Dakota)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Webber, Christine E. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0001 | FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Wills, Amy D. (Illinois)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Chambers, Felicia L. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Cook, Shayna Susanne (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Demske, Susan Marie (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Federighi, Carol (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Gardner, Joshua Edward (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Gilligan, James J (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Kelhoffer, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Koslowe, Neil H (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Lepley, Richard G (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0004 | FH-DC-0009-9000
Machen, Ronald C (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002
Nusraty, Tim (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Phillips, Heather (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Powell, Amy E. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Rivera, Karen A. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Sandberg, Justin Michael (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Sealls, Kenneth Eliot (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Sitcov, Michael (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Soskin, Eric J. (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Tiersky, Marcia N. (Virginia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Voltaire, Jean-Michel (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Walker, C. Gail (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
West, Tony (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-0002
Zimmerman, Jonathan Eli (District of Columbia)
FH-DC-0009-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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