Frequently Asked Questions

General Settlement

  1. What is a Class Action?

    In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. All these people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court decides all the issues in the lawsuit for all the Class Members. The people who sued are called Plaintiffs and the person they sued is called the Defendant. In this case, the defendant is the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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  2. Am I being sued?

    You are not being sued.

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  3. Why did I receive a Notice Postcard?

    A class action Settlement has been reached between certain African American farmers and the USDA. If you are eligible for benefits from this Settlement, you have a right to know about it and about all of your options before the Court decided whether to approve the Settlement. The Notice Postcard was mailed as a notification of the Settlement and the Notice Postcard explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for those benefits, and how to get them.

    If you did not request the Notice Postcard and are the named individual on the Notice Postcard, it is because your name appears in a database from the earlier Pigford class action and therefore you may be a Class Member in this case.

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  4. What is the Pigford case about and how does it relate to this Settlement?

    In 1999, a lawsuit called Pigford v. Glickman (“Pigford”) was settled. The lawsuit involved claims by African American farmers that the USDA had discriminated against them between 1981 and 1996 based on race, wrongfully denying them farm loans, loan servicing, and other benefits, or giving them loans with unfair terms. Many people who may have been entitled to benefits under that settlement did not file timely claims.

    The Court in Pigford allowed people to file a petition (“Late-Filing Request”) to request that their claims be considered after the original claims deadline (October 12, 1999). The Late-Filing Request had to be submitted by September 15, 2000. If those people could not demonstrate that that their late filing was due to “extraordinary circumstances beyond their control,” their claim request in Pigford was denied. These people are called “Late Filers.”

    Many additional people filed Late–Filing Requests on or after September 16, 2000 and on or before June 18, 2008, and were also denied participation in Pigford due to the lateness of their claim. These people are called “Late-Late Filers.”

    Late Filers and Late-Late Filers from the Pigford case may be eligible to file claims under this new Settlement.

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  5. What is the current Settlement about?

    This new Settlement involves the same type of claims that were the subject of the Pigford settlement. Specifically, it involves claims by African American farmers that the USDA discriminated against them between 1981 and 1996 based on race, wrongfully denying them farm loans, loan servicing, and other benefits, or giving them loans with unfair terms. The current Settlement will only provide cash payments and debt relief to Late Filers and Late-Late Filers in Pigford who did not have their Pigford claims determined on the merits. Congress has approved $1.25 billion to pay claims and other expenses under this Settlement.

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  6. Why is there a Settlement?

    The Court has not decided in favor of the Class or the USDA. Instead, both sides have agreed to a Settlement, which is an agreement between the Class and the USDA. That way, both sides avoid the cost and risk of continuing the case, and Class Members who prove they experienced discrimination will receive money without having to file individual lawsuits. The Class Representatives and the lawyers representing them think this Settlement is best for all Class Members, and the U.S. District Court has now approved this Settlement.

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Class Membership

  1. Am I a class member?

    To know if you may receive money from this Settlement, you first have to know if you are a Class Member. To be a Class Member, you must:

    1. Be a Late Filer or Late-Late Filer (i.e., you sent a written Late-Filing Request on or between October 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008 to the Court, the Facilitator, the Arbitrator, or the Monitor in the Pigford case asking to participate in the Pigford settlement); and
    2. Have not already received a determination on the merits of your discrimination claim in Pigford.

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  2. How do I know if I am a Late Filer or a Late-Late Filer?

    A neutral company appointed by the Court to serve as Claims Administrator has information on people who filed Late-Filing Requests in the Pigford case. This information will help them determine if you filed a Late-Filing Request and whether you are a Late Filer or a Late-Late Filer.

    1. Late Filers are people who submitted Late-Filing Requests on or between October 13, 1999 and September 15, 2000 to the Court, the Facilitator, the Arbitrator, or the Monitor in the Pigford case asking to participate in the Pigford settlement.
    2. Late-Late Filers are people who submitted Late-Filing Requests on or between September 16, 2000 and June 18, 2008 to the Court, the Facilitator, the Arbitrator, or the Monitor in the Pigford case asking to participate in the Pigford settlement.

    You may submit any additional documents to the Claims Administrator that help prove you are a Late Filer or Late-Late Filer.

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  3. How do I know if I already received a determination on the merits of my Pigford claim?

    Only a Late Filer or Late-Late Filer who has not previously received a determination on the merits of his or her Pigford claim is a Class Member. You received a determination on the merits if:

    1. Your Pigford claim was approved or denied,
    2. Your Pigford claim was determined to be defective by the Pigford Facilitator and you did not correct the defect on time,
    3. Your Pigford Late-Filing Request was approved and you then failed to file a claim on time; or
    4. You were a Pigford Claimant who opted-out of the Pigford Settlement.

    The Claims Administrator has a list of everyone who received a determination on the merits of their claims in Pigford or opted out of the Pigford settlement.

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  4. If I am not on the Late Filer or Late-Late Filer list, can I still file a claim in the Settlement?

    Yes, but you may do so only if you are able to provide written evidence to the Claims Administrator showing that you sent a written Late-Filing Request on or between October 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008 to the Court, the Facilitator, the Arbitrator, or the Monitor in the Pigford case asking to participate in the Pigford settlement. It is not enough that you went to a lawyer or other organization and asked about the Pigford settlement.

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  5. If I received a claim determination in the Pigford case can I still attempt to participate in the Black Farmers Discrimination Settlement?

    No, you are not eligible for an award in this case since your claim has already received a determination in the Pigford case.

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  6. If I am a Class Member, am I eligible for an award under the settlement?

    If you are a Class Member (you are a Late Filer or a Late-Late Filer and did not receive a determination on the merits of your Pigford claim), the Court has said you may be eligible for an award under the Settlement if you, or the person on whose behalf you are filing a claim, can meet ALL of the following criteria:

    1. You are an African American;
    2. You farmed or attempted to farm between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996;
    3. You owned or leased, or attempted to own or lease, farm land between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996;
    4. Between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996, you applied or attempted to apply to the USDA for participation in a federal farm credit or benefit program(s) and believe that you were discriminated against on the basis of race in the USDA’s response;
    5. If you applied (i.e., not merely attempted to apply) for a loan or benefit program, one of the following occurred:
      • You were denied participation in a federal farm credit or benefit program(s); or
      • Your loan or other benefit was provided late, approved for a lesser amount than you requested, or burdened by restrictive conditions;
      • You received a loan with unfair terms; or
      • You did not receive appropriate loan service from the USDA;
    6. You suffered economic or financial loss as a result of the USDA’s treatment of your application(s) for participation in a federal farm loan or benefit program(s) or as a result of inappropriate loan service by USDA; and
    7. You complained of discrimination to an official of the United States Government on or before July 1, 1997 regarding USDA’s treatment of you.

    If you are the heir or legal representative of someone who died who fits this description, you may file a claim for payment that would become part of the deceased person’s estate.

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  7. If I am of mixed heritage, believe I am part of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case, and am African American, is it possible for me to make a claim in this Settlement?

    If your claim is considered in this case, you may not be eligible to participate in Keepseagle case and should check with Class Counsel in that case.

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  8. If I am of mixed heritage, believe I am part of the Garcia v. Vilsack case, and am African American, is it possible for me to make a claim in this Settlement?

    If your claim is considered in this case, you may not be eligible to participate in Garcia case and should check with Class Counsel in that case.

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  9. If I am a woman, believe I am part of the Love v. Vilsack case, and am African American, is it possible for me to make a claim in this Settlement?

    If your claim is considered in this case, you may not be eligible to participate in Love case and should check with Class Counsel in that case.

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  10. I received a letter stating that I am not a Class Member. What does this mean?

    In order to be a Class Member and be eligible for an award under the Settlement, you must have submitted a written request to participate between October 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008. If you received a letter stating that you are not a Class Member, then we have no record that you submitted the required written request and you are not eligible to participate in this Settlement.

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Rights and Options of Class Members

  1. Am I giving up any rights under the Settlement?

    Yes. If the Court gives final approval to the Settlement, whether or not you file a claim, you will not be able to sue or continue to sue the USDA for the discrimination claims being resolved by this Settlement.

    The specific claims you are giving up are described in Section XIII of the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement specifically describes the released claims, so read it carefully. If you have any questions you can talk to Class Counsel for free or you can talk to your own lawyer at your own expense.

    Important case documents including Judge Friedman’s October 27, 2011 Opinion and Order and the full Settlement Agreement are available by clicking here.

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  2. How do I tell the Court if I don’t like the Settlement?

    The period for raising objections to the Settlement Agreement has ended. Class Members who wished to object to the Settlement Agreement were required to bring their objections to the attention of the Court and Lead Class Counsel before the September 1, 2011 Fairness Hearing.

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  3. When and where did the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

    The Court held a Fairness Hearing at 9:30 a.m. on September 1, 2011 at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court heard from attorneys and other interested persons whether the Settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court also considered any objections to the Settlement. On October 27, 2011, the Court issued a 70-page opinion in which it approved the Settlement and found that it was "fair, reasonable, and adequate."

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  4. What happens if I do nothing?

    As a Class Member, you are bound by the Court’s order approving the Settlement. If you do nothing, you will not get any money or loan forgiveness from the Settlement, but you will still be bound by the Court’s decisions. You must submit a Claim Form to get a payment. If you do nothing, you will give up your right to sue the USDA about the discrimination claims being resolved by this Settlement.

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Settlement Benefits

  1. What does the Settlement provide?

    Congress has provided $1.25 billion to settle this lawsuit. This money is called the Settlement Fund. After deducting certain amounts, including the costs of administering this Settlement and attorneys’ fees and expenses, the remaining Settlement Fund will be distributed to Class Members whose claims are approved by a Court-appointed Neutral. In addition to cash payments, the Settlement will also provide reductions or forgiveness of USDA loans for certain Class Members who qualify, in addition to payments to cover additional income tax you may owe as a result of your award.

    A complete description of what the Settlement provides is in the Settlement Agreement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by clicking here or by calling toll-free, 1-877-810-8110.

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  2. How much will I be paid?

    The actual payments for successful claims cannot be determined yet. The amount of money people who file successful claims are eligible to receive will depend on whether they file a claim under Track A or Track B. The actual amount any Class Member will receive will also depend on how many successful claims there are.

    Track A – Establishes an expedited claims process that will provide people who file successful claims with a cash payment of up to $50,000, plus a payment to be applied to debt owed (if any) to USDA, plus a tax payment worth 25% of that person’s cash and loan awards.

    Track B – Establishes a more rigorous claims process that will allow people who file successful claims an opportunity to receive actual damages up to $250,000

    It is important to note that Congress has approved a limited amount of money for this Settlement. Additionally, there is an overall limit of $100 million to pay Track B claims. Therefore, the cash payments that Class Members will receive could be significantly less than $50,000 for successful Track A claims and significantly less than $250,000 for successful Track B claims.

    Money to reduce or discharge outstanding USDA loans will be sent directly to the USDA. Money to reduce income tax liability will be sent directly to the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of the successful Claimant.

    Late-Late Filers could receive lower payments than Late Filers. Late-Late Filers may receive only 70% of what Late Filers receive unless there is enough money in the Settlement to pay all Late-Filers in full. If there is enough money to pay all Late Filers in full, then Late-Late Filers could receive more than 70% of what Late Filers receive.

    This chart summarizes what benefits are available for claims under Track A and Track B:


    BENEFIT TRACK A TRACK B
    Cash payment Up to $50,000 (although your actual amount could be significantly lower) Up to $250,000 (although your actual amount could be significantly lower)
    Payment to IRS for taxes owed on cash payment Up to $12,500 (although your actual amount could be significantly lower) Not available
    Loan reduction or forgiveness payment to USDA for outstanding farm loans Depends on your claim and what loans you still owe money on Not available
    Payment to IRS for taxes owed as a result of USDA loan reduction or forgiveness payment 25% of your loan reduction or forgiveness payment Not available

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  3. If I receive a payment, will my award be taxable?

    Yes. However, for awards made under Track A and for Loan Reduction Awards, an additional payment of 25% of the amount of the award will be paid directly to the IRS to reduce the income tax you may owe. The amount of the cash award will be determined after all claims have been evaluated.

    If you file a claim and are approved under Track B, you can get the amount of your actual damages up to $250,000, but unlike Track A, you will be responsible for any taxes you may owe. Under Track B, you are not eligible for a tax award.

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  4. If my claim is approved, when will I receive payment?

    No payments will be made until all claims have been decided. That means that it will not be until sometime in late spring/summer of 2013 before Class Members who submitted successful claims will receive any payments.

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  5. What USDA loans are eligible for reduction or forgiveness?

    You will be eligible for loan reductions or forgiveness only if the Neutral determines that you are eligible for a Track A cash payment. Only those loans in programs that form the basis for your successful Track A claim are eligible for reduction or forgiveness. More information about what USDA loans are eligible can be found in Section II.MM of the Settlement Agreement. Your lawyer will help you determine which of your loans are eligible, if any.

    People who file Track B claims are not eligible for any loan reductions or forgiveness.

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  6. Can I get another farm loan if I get a loan reduced or forgiven?

    Yes. Even if you have loans reduced or forgiven, you will be eligible to be considered for new loans from the USDA.

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  7. How do I become eligible to receive a payment?

    In order to be eligible to receive an award under the Settlement, you, or Class Counsel on your behalf, needed to have filed a Claim Form with the Claims Administrator postmarked on or before May 11, 2012, subject potentially to limited exceptions outlined here (which has not yet been ruled on by the Court). If your Claim Form is received but postmarked on May 12, 2011 or after, it will be rejected and you will not receive any award.

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Assistance with Completing the Claim Form

  1. What is the difference between the Track A and the Track B claim processes?

    If you believe you suffered financial or other economic loss greater than $50,000 you could have chosen to submit your claim under “Track B.” In order to be successful under Track B, you will be required to show, with supporting documents, that:

    • You satisfy all of the elements of a Track A claim (see FAQ 12)
    • The treatment of your loan application(s) by USDA was less favorable than application(s) filed by a white farmer under similar circumstances (for this element, your supporting document may be a statement signed under oath by a non-family member who has personal knowledge of that less favorable treatment); and
    • You complained between January 1, 1981 and July 1, 1997 to the USDA or other U.S. Government official or employee about the discrimination (for this element, your supporting document may be a statement signed under oath by a non-family member who has personal knowledge that you complained).

    The standard of proof for Track B claims is a higher standard than the one that will be applied to Track A claims. This standard requires that you submit documents to support your claim. If you chose to submit a Track B claim and are not successful, you will not be able to receive a Track A payment or loan reduction or forgiveness.

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  2. Can I change my claim from Track A to Track B?

    Once a claim is submitted under Track A you may not change to Track B.

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  3. Who will decide if I am eligible for payment, or not?

    After you have submitted a Claim Form, it will be reviewed by the Court-approved Claims Administrator to determine if you are a Class Member and whether all of the required information has been provided. If the Claims Administrator determines that the Claim Form is complete and you are a Class Member, the Claim Form will be sent to a Court-appointed neutral person (“Neutral”). That Neutral will review your Claim Form and other evidence you submit and decide whether you have met the requirements for an award under the Settlement. The decision of the Neutral will be final and binding. You cannot appeal the Neutral’s decisions.

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  4. Can I submit additional information/documents that I believe will affect the outcome of my claim?

    No. Additional information or documents must have been postmarked no later than the claims deadline of May 11, 2012, unless specifically requested by the Claims Administrator or Neutral.

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  5. Will I have a chance to correct any errors or omissions on my claim?

    If there are errors or omissions on your Claim Form, the Claims Administrator will notify you in writing that your Claim Package is incomplete and you will have 30 days to provide the missing information. Failure to provide the information within that time frame will result in the denial of your claim.

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  6. I received a letter stating that the Neutral had additional questions or needs additional documents from me. What does this mean?

    This is not an acceptance or denial of your Claim Form and only means that the Neutral would like additional information in order to fully understand and review your claim. Please provide the requested information as soon as possible.

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  7. I am a heir or kin to a Class Member, can I file a claim?

    Yes, you could have filed a claim on behalf of a deceased Class Member or a Class Member suffering from a physical or mental limitation. However, you were required to submit proof that you have the legal authority to file on behalf of the Class Member or explain why you believe you are authorized to file on behalf of the deceased or the mentally or physically limited Class Member. Please see FAQ 38 for filing on behalf of a deceased Class Member and FAQ 42 for instructions on filing out a Claim Form as a Submitter.

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  8. Can I file a Claim Form on behalf of a deceased Class Member?

    Yes, if you are the legal representative of a Class Member’s estate you could have filed a claim on behalf of the estate. If you are the legal representative, you needed to include proof of your representation when you submit the Claim Form. If you are not currently the legal representative, but believe you will be appointed, you needed to explain that in detail on the Claim Form. You also needed a copy of the Class Member’s death certificate in order to file a claim on behalf of a deceased person.

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  9. I am a sibling/friend/child, etc. of an individual who made a claim on behalf of a deceased Class Member, can I have information on this claim?

    Only the individual who submitted the claim on behalf of the deceased Class Member or someone authorized by that person can access the information in these files. If your sibling/cousin/friend/etc. wishes to do so, he or she may submit written authorization for us to provide you with this information.

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  10. If I have an attorney and am challenging the authority of another individual to make a claim for a deceased Class Member, can payment be forestalled while the challenge (litigation) is in process?

    No payment will be made until someone submits documentation establishing he or she is the legal representative of the decedent. The Neutral will review documents submitted to determine if someone has provided the appropriate documentation. If the person who has submitted the claim has, in fact, been appointed the legal representative of the decedent, the Settlement requires that we defer to the local authorities who determine legal representation for the estates of decedents. However, if the person who submitted the claim has not yet been appointed the legal representative of the decedent, you may submit your documentation regarding your status as legal representative of the decedent. The Neutral will review the documentation, and in addition to ruling on the claim of the decedent, will determine if one or the other individuals who submitted the claim has established legal representative status. If neither has satisfied the Neutral, the payment will be held until sufficient documentation has been submitted to establish valid legal representation of the decedent, but for one year. If neither person has established legal representation of the decedent at that time, the money may go to a fund for unclaimed monies if no petition for appointment of legal representative for the Class Member is filed.

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  11. Can you provide an explanation of the difference between Claimant and Submitter and the possible complications of confusing the two categories on the Claim Form?

    The Claimant is the Class Member who meets the requirements of the Settlement for a Class Member. The Submitter is the person who is filing the claim on behalf of the Claimant because the Claimant is deceased or unable to submit the Claim Form him or herself due to a physical or mental limitation. The Submitter should have legal authority to file the claim on behalf of the Class Member and provide proof of that legal authority when the Claim Form is submitted, or must explain why the Submitter believes that he or she is authorized to file on behalf of the deceased or the mentally or physically limited Claimant. Please note that only one claim should be submitted for a Claimant.

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  12. Can you provide an explanation of the difference between Co-Applicants and Co-Claimants and the possible complications of confusing the two categories on the Claim Form?

    Co-Applicants are individuals who jointly applied to the USDA for a farm loan. Commonly this would be husband and wife, brothers/sisters, or business partners who jointly own and operate a farm together. Co-Claimants are Class Members submitting claims under the Settlement relating to the same farm operation. The claims process provides for only one payment for each farm operation with a successful claim, not one payment per person.

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  13. If I have no contact with the Co-Applicant to the loan application, can I make a claim anyway?

    Yes, but you must still provide as much information as you can about the Co-Applicant. If your Co-Applicant submits a claim as well, the two Claim Forms will be considered together. If both claims are successful, the award will be divided between the two successful Co-Applicants.

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  14. If I make a claim without the Co-Applicant to the loan application and the claim prevails, how will my portion of any entitlement be paid?

    If only one Co-Applicant submits a claim and that claim is successful, then only the Co-Applicant submitting the claim will receive an award.

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  15. I want to change my answer to Question [x] on my Claim Form but I already submitted it. What do I do?

    Any such additional information or changes must have been postmarked no later than the claims deadline of May 11, 2012 in order to affect the outcome of your claim. If you received an Incomplete Claim Letter, you may submit changes to those portions of your claim that were deemed incomplete as long as your response is postmarked on or prior to the date identified in your Incomplete Claim Letter.

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Class Counsel

  1. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

    Yes. The Court has appointed lawyers to represent Class Members as “Class Counsel.” The Court has appointed the following lawyers as “Lead Class Counsel”:


    Andrew H. Marks, Esq.
    COFFEY BURLINGTON, P.L.
    Office in the Grove, Penthouse
    2699 South Bayshore Drive
    Miami, Florida 33133
    Henry Sanders, Esq.
    CHESTNUT, SANDERS, SANDERS,
    PETTAWAY & CAMPBELL, LLC
    One Union Street
    Selma, AL 36701
    Telephone: 334-875-9264
    Fax: 334-875-9853
    Gregorio A. Francis, Esq.
    MORGAN & MORGAN, P.A.
    20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1600
    Orlando, FL 32801
    Telephone: 407-420-1414

    A complete list of all Class Counsel is available from the Claims Administrator or by clicking here. You may contact Class Counsel by calling the Claims Administrator at 1-877-810-8110. The Claims Administrator will direct your call to the appropriate person.

    You do not need to pay any of your own money, or any part of money you receive from the Settlement, to have Class Counsel represent you on a Track A claim. Class Counsel will be paid for their work on your behalf from the funds being provided in this Settlement. Class Counsel was available to assist you in filling out and filing the Claim Form with the Claims Administrator at no out-of-pocket charge to you, as well as answer any questions you may have about the Settlement.

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  2. May I talk to Class Counsel in person about the Settlement and my claim?

    Yes. Please call 1-877-810-8110 and ask to speak to Class Counsel.

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  3. How will Class Counsel be paid?

    The Court has approved attorneys’ fees and expenses of between 4.1% and 7.4% of the Settlement Fund. The final amount will be determined by the Court at a later hearing.

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  4. May I use my own lawyer instead of Class Counsel?

    Yes. However, the Court has decided that prior fee agreements or contracts you may have signed are no longer binding. If you chose to be represented by your own lawyer, you could have hired one at your own expense. That lawyer must have agreed in writing to follow the Court’s orders in this case.

    If you hired your own lawyer, that lawyer’s fee will be subtracted by the Claims Administrator from the amount you receive from the Settlement. There are limits on what that fee may be:

    • If you hire your own lawyer to file a Track A claim, the lawyer may not require you to pay him or her more than 2% of the money you receive under the Settlement as the lawyer’s fee.
    • If you hire your own lawyer to file a Track B claim, the lawyer may not require you to pay more than 8% of the money you receive under the Settlement as the lawyer’s fee.

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Potential Current Discrimination, Foreclosure of Collection Actions

  1. Can you help me, or connect me with someone who can help me with what I think is current discrimination against me by the USDA?

    No. Our specific involvement and responsibilities are to provide information and assistance to callers who may be Class Members wanting to know how to participate in this Settlement, which relates only to certain types of discrimination between 1981 and 1996. We are unable to provide the type of assistance or advice about other issues. We can only suggest that you contact the USDA’s Office of Civil Rights.

    USDA Farm Service Agency, Office of Civil Rights
    Compliance and Program Analysis Branch
    Telephone Numbers
    202-401-7164 (Phone)
    202-401-0264 (Fax)

    You may send a written complaint to the following address:

    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Director, Office of Adjudication
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20250-9410

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  2. I am a Class Member and facing imminent foreclosure/collection action. Is Class Counsel willing to advise or assist me with this matter while I am awaiting a decision on my claim?

    Class Counsel have negotiated a halt to new foreclosure actions while a Class Member’s claims under the Settlement are pending, although other actions short of foreclosure may be permitted, and nothing can be done by Class Counsel regarding any foreclosure actions initiated before the date of the Settlement Agreement.

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  3. Will the USDA be able to take foreclosure or collection action against me while I have an active claim in this Class Action?

    The USDA has agreed not to initiate after the February 18, 2010 Settlement Agreement any new foreclosure actions or accelerations of USDA loans against Class Members until their claims are resolved in this case.

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Settlement Tax Filing Assistance

  1. Can I get assistance in filing my taxes as a result of receiving an award in this Settlement?

    The Claims Administrator cannot provide tax advice. However, a website and a hotline are available to assist you with questions regarding the impact of the award on your taxes. For free basic tax information, please call the hotline at 1-800-235-6121 or visit www.law.udc.edu and click the tab titled “Black Farmers.” You may also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service at 1-877-777-4778 for assistance.

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  2. If I received debt relief, how will it be reported for tax purposes?

    Claimants who have debt relief should receive a separate 1099 directly from the USDA. The taxes on the debt relief are included on the 1099 that you received from the Claims Administrator along with your award. The tax amount is included with your total award amount in box 3 and separately in box 4 of the 1099.

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  3. Will the award I received in the Settlement affect any state or federal benefits I am receiving and can someone advise me on this?

    The Settlement award is considered income which is why you were sent the Form 1099. The payments are reported to the Internal Revenue Service as taxable income. If you are receiving money from other programs such as public assistance or federal aid through Social Security, those benefits may be affected by your Settlement award. This is because certain assistance programs rely on your income level to determine if you are qualified for benefits. However, the Claims Administrator cannot advise you on your specific situation and you should discuss your specific situation with the state or federal agency from which you receive benefits.

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  4. What do the amounts on my 1099 represent?

    The amount in box 3 titled “Other Income” reflects your award amount plus taxes withheld (25% of your award amount). The amount in box 4 titled “Federal income tax withheld” reflects only the amount of taxes withheld on your award. For example: If you received an award of $50,000 with $12,500 paid to the IRS to cover the taxes, your 1099 would reflect a total amount of $62,500 in box 3 and $12,500 in the box 4.

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  5. How was the tax payment made to the IRS?

    The tax payment was automatically made on your behalf at the time your check was issued and mailed to you. This payment was sent electronically to the IRS. However, the tax payment is sent to a general IRS settlement fund and may not be associated with your specific SSN/EIN until March or April 2014.

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  6. Am I due a refund?

    If you do not owe any taxes, you may be entitled to a refund. To receive any refund in which you may be entitled, you should file a return within 3 years of the filing deadline for the applicable tax year. The Claims Administrator cannot provide tax advice so you should discuss with the IRS or your tax advisor to see if you may be entitled to a tax refund or any special filing requirements apply to you.

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  7. My co-claimant and I are now estranged. What can be done if he/she refuses to cooperate with the tax reporting?

    We cannot resolve disputes between co-claimants. If you are divorced, you should consult with the lawyer who handled your divorce.

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  8. If I am part of a single farm operation, did the other members of the single farming operation each receive their own 1099?

    Yes.

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