Ruling clears way for appeals of Indian trust deal

October 6, 2011 - 2:15 PM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has cleared the path for appeals to move forward in a $3.4 billion U.S. government settlement over mismanaged American Indian land royalties.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan of the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday that none of the appellants has to put up an $8.3 million bond before proceeding.

The attorneys for a Montana woman who sued the U.S. government on behalf of about 500,000 Native Americans had asked Hogan to require each appellant to put up the bond. The attorneys say the appeals would delay beneficiaries from receiving their shares of the settlement, which has been 15 years in the making.

Hogan says in his ruling that the plaintiffs' attorneys inflated the estimated cost of the appeals and misrepresented the court's record in issuing such bonds.