BFAA, Inc. will be conducting a workshop and information session on Saturday, December 3, 2011, regarding points of interest relating to the recent Claim Forms being sent by the Claims Administrator of Portland, Oregon.
We will create a Blog dealing with these select points of interest for the benefit of our members with a relatively high degree of frequency (weekly).
There are Thirteen (13) Sections being highlighted over Fifteen (15) pages of this Claim Form.
SECTION FOUR: FOR DECEASED CLAIMANTS (Page 2 of 15)
Among other things, the Claimant (heir) is being asked if an estate exists for the Claimant and if so provide the Estate Taxpayer ID Number. However, the claim continues, if there has not been an estate set up for the deceased person then the Claimant is asked to explain why he/she believes they will be appointed the Legal Representative of the Claimant's estate.
BFAA, Inc. is taking the position that, first and foremost, this information was not required by the Claimants in the first lawsuit (Pigford I ). Second, it is a well known fact that the majority of African Americans (for whatever reason) do not leave Wills, otherwise, spelling out to whom and what assets and/or property (real or personal) is to be given from their estate. The lawyers (Class Counsel) representing Black farmers are very much aware of this situation in our community. We further believe that the majority of the tens of thousands of the claims (hundreds of millions of dollars) that will be filed in this second lawsuit (Pigford II) will be for the benefit of individuals who have died leaving no wills (intestate).
However, there is a provision (not mentioned on the Claim Form) where the Claims Administrator (Portland, Oregon) will then place all of the payments to deceased estates into a special fund (bank account) for one year. If after the end of the one year period, any heir who has not established, through probate court (or some other judicial body), that they are the rightful party to receive the funds, those funds will be given to a third party to this lawsuit--Cy Pres Beneficiary, as follows:
V.E.12 of SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Page 30 and 31).
12. If a Class Member who is deceased or was unable to submit a claim on his or her own behalf due to a physical or mental limitation prevails, and a legal representative has not yet been appointed for a Class Member, the funds payable to the Class Member shall be held up to one year in a separate account established by Class Counsel for the benefit of the Class Member until a legal representative for the Class Member to whom the funds may be disbursed is appointed. The Claims Administrator may extend this period upon receipt of proof that a petition for appointment of a legal representative for the Class Member is pending in the appropriate court.
13. In the event there is a balance remaining in the Designated Account after the last check has been cashed, the last check has been invalidated due to passage of time, and after the passage of time set forth in Section V.E.12, Class Counsel may then move the Court to designate "Cy Pres Beneficiaries." A "Cy Pres Beneficiary" must be a non-profit organization, other than a law firm, legal services entity, or educational institution that has provided agricultural, business assistance, or advocacy services, including assistance under Pigford and the Consolidate Case, to African American farmers between 1981 and the Execution Date. Each Cy Pres Beneficiary designated by the Court shall receive equal shares of the balance remaining in the Designated Account. The Claims Administrator shall send to each Cy Pres Beneficiary, via first class mail, postage prepaid, a check in the amount of the Beneficiary's share.
See, paragraph V.E.12 of the Settlement Agreement as placed under Downloads at www.mybfaa.com (Pigford II SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT, pages 30 and 31 of same).
BFAA, Inc. believes that this situation is simply not fair nor is it listed or would even consider being, a Cy Pres Beneficiary.
Under this set of circumstances, virtually all of the cash awards to most heirs in this lawsuit will wind up in some county and/or parish courtroom where, if history is correct, will go to other probate lawyers. The daughters and grandsons of those for whom this lawsuit was intended to compensate in the first place--discriminated black farmers will not see a dime of their ancestors settlement from this historic lawsuit.
This travesty and mockery of justice can not be allowed to be the dividends for the pain and sweat of our forefathers in agriculture.
Sadly, the Cy Pres Beneficiaries mentioned in the Settlement Agreement are also African American farm advocacy groups who otherwise have held themselves out to protect the interest of the Black farmers and their heirs. Could this explain why these groups have endorsed and are promoting, vigorously, what can only be described as flawed and unconstitutional settlement to our community?
Read the Settlement Agreement and the referenced paragraphs contained therein, and decide for yourselves. Hopefully, you will develop a better sense of appreciation as to why BFAA, Inc. has filed OBJECTIONS (November 7, 2011) to this flawed and unconstitutional piece of legislation--Pigford II.
Call BFAA, Inc. and ask what you can do to help us stop this blatant disregard and deprivation of our rights.
Knowledge is power, and information, is how you get it.
BFAA, Inc. President
Remember, there will be a meeting on this Saturday, December 3, 2011, at:
Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church
70 North Bellevue Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38104
10:00 a.m until 1:00 p.m.