A federal judge in Washington late Thursday granted final approval for the $1.25 billion settlement in the black farmers' class action that alleged government wrongdoing in loan processing.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman noted in his ruling “overwhelming indications of support for an interest in this settlement and the comparatively miniscule number of objections to it.”
The settlement resolves claims from farmers who did not participate in an earlier agreement with the government to receive compensation for allegations of discrimination in the processing of loans. Friedman held a fairness hearing in September.
“Although, like any compromise, the settlement agreement before the court will not satisfy everyone, it offers class members their best option for obtaining meaningful redress of longstanding injuries,” Friedman said.
Friedman said “the overall context of this litigation confirms the court’s belief that class counsel will provide adequate representation.” The case, the judge said, with its many separate legal complaints and dozens of attorneys, did not devolve “into an endless series of squabbles between rival attorneys.”
No compensation award will be paid to any claimant, Friedman said, until there has been a determination on all claims. The claims process is expected to take a year.
Friedman said after the claims process wraps up, he will award legal fees between $50.3 million and $90.8 million, which represents 4.1% to 7.4% of the settlement. The legal fees, he said, will be divided among class counsel according to a separate contact the attorneys executed among themselves.
Crowell & Moring partner Andy Marks, in addition to Henry Sanders of Selma, Ala.’s Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettaway & Campbell and Gregorio Francis of Morgan & Morgan, served as lead class counsel.
Friedman earlier this year granted preliminary approval for the deal.