U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman
For immediate release Contact: Jeff Lungren/Terry Shawn
November 17, 2004 202-225-2492
Oversight Hearing Thursday Regarding Black Farmer Class Action Settlement With Ag. Department
What: Oversight Hearing Looking Into the Notice Provision of the 1999 Pigford v. Glickman Consent Decree
Who: House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee - Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Chairman
When: 10:00 a.m., Thursday, November 18, 2004
Where: 2141 Rayburn Building
In 1997, black farmers filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging discrimination against them by the Department in offering loans. The USDA and the class of black farmers reached a settlement in January 1999. The settlement required a black farmer wishing to join the class settlement to file a claim application. The consent decree contains specific instructions regarding the notice to be sent to potential class members. The Poorman-Douglas Corporation is the facilitator of the consent decree, with the responsibility for publishing the Notice of Class Settlement.
Approximately 22,000 potential class members submitted claims before the deadline. However, over 66,000 potential class members filed their claims late and thus are shut out from the settlement. Many of these 66,000 individuals assert their claim was late because they did not have notice of the claims process.
This Hearing Will...
Investigate whether the class action notice was defective and did not adequately reach its target audience.
WITNESSES: Mr. Tom Burrell, a black farmer representative; Ms. Jeanne Finegan, consultant to Poorman-Douglas; Mr. J.L. Chestnut, Jr., Class Counsel; and Ms. Bernice Atchison, a Black farmer claimant denied access to the Pigford v. Glickman class