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Village Earth

Proposed Findings of Fact for 43 Billion Dollar Suit Against Government

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On July 11th, 2008 the Cobell plaintiff’s posted on their website a proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” (download complete document here) from their landmark 43 billion dollar class action lawsuit against the Department of Interior for mismanagement and theft of lease revenue from the lands of over 500,000 Native Americans. According to the document: “These findings and conclusions are the result of a nine-day bench trial in June 2008.1 Plaintiffs seek the equitable remedy of restitution and specific relief for Individual Indian Money (IIM) that was collected by the government as trustee and which the defendants are unable to establish was properly disbursed to a beneficiary, in addition to an amount representing the benefit to the government from retention of these funds. This trial was set for the purpose of determining the dollar amount of that remedy. Earlier this year, in findings issued January 30, 2008, this Court noted that one of the questions which was addressed in the bench trial held in the October 2007 trial was the dollar amount of the IIM trust “throughput,” i.e., the funds that have flowed into and out of the IIM trust. Cobell v. Kempthorne (“Cobell XX”), 532 F. Supp. 2d 37, 82 (D.D.C. 2008). However, the parties’ efforts to determine throughput in the October 2007 trial were found to be lacking and based on “sparse and largely unsupported evidence.” Cobell XX, 532 F. Supp. 2d at 82. Accordingly, the Pretrial Order for the present trial provided that while the January 30 findings would serve as a starting point, the parties were expected to adduce further evidence on this core issue. See Pretrial Order at 1. The findings and conclusions set forth herein, derived from this trial and the extensive record developed in this litigation, support and explain this Court’s decision that plaintiffs are entitled to restitution of $46,851,210,000.00, which represents the accumulated benefit conferred on defendants, net of amounts currently recorded on behalf of Individual Indian Trust beneficiaries. Jun. 2008 PX-189. Alternatively, plaintiffs are entitled to the funds withheld and interest pursuant to the government’s statutory duty to pay such interest (i.e., specific relief) in the amount of $62,018,970,000.00, which is net of amounts currently recorded on behalf of Individual Indian Trust beneficiaries. Jun. 2008 PX-192. These amounts should be ordered to be paid forthwith into the Registry of the Court.” For more information visit: www.indiantrust.com

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