On March 15, 2011, a group of Hispanic farmers and ranchers brought suit against the United States and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, were potential claimants in the proposed settlement agreement in Garcia v. Vilsack
, an earlier case in which a group of Hispanic farmers and ranchers filed suit against the USDA, claiming that the USDA had systematically denied Hispanics farmers and ranchers loans and loan servicing in the 1990s. In this case, Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants had violated their 5th Amendment equal protection and due process rights by offering a settlement agreement unequal to the settlement agreement offered to African American
, Native American
On May 11, 2011, the US moved to dismiss the case, stating that Plaintiffs lacked standing, were attempting improper claim splitting, were time barred, and denying unlawful conduct. Plaintiffs moved to certify the class on June 11, 2011, and Defendants moved on June 14 to stay the certification motion pending adjudication of the motion to dismiss. On November 11, 2011, Judge Reggie B. Walton entered an order asking parties to clarify whether Plaintiffs' claims were ripe, given that the settlement agreement in Garcia
had not been formally proposed. On December 21, 2011, Judge Walton entered an order denying all extant motions without prejudice, and holding the case in abeyance pending an announcement of the final version of Defendants' ADR program, because this suit would be unripe until the settlement agreement was formally proposed.
On January 20, 2012, Defendants in the Garcia
case submitted the proposed framework for the settlement agreement. Based on the proposal, Plaintiffs in this case submitted their first amended complaint on April 13, 2012, and Judge Walton lifted the stay on the case on August 24, 2012. The US then moved the court to dismiss the amended complaint on September 24, 2012. On December 11, 2012, Judge Walton granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, ruling that there was no injury because participation in the administrative claims process was optional, and that the suit lacked redressability because the court had no way of compelling the government to propose a specific settlement agreement. 908 F. Supp. 2d 146.
On February 15, 2013, the plaintiffs entered a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (case 13-05044). This appeal is currently pending.
On May 14, 2015, the case was administratively reopened. On October 26, 2015, the defendant filed a report regarding the voluntary alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program established for farmers who allege discrimination in making or servicing farm loans based on being Hispanic or female. The Claims Adjudicator approved a total of 3,210 claims in the ADR program. As of October 23, 2015, USDA reported as follows: A total of 2,847 of the approved claims had been paid by the Judgment Fund, and another 126 claims were in process.Dan Osher - 07/07/2013
Asma Husain - 02/21/2016