BuckleySandler Achieves Landmark Settlement in Navajo Nation Breach of Trust Lawsuit Against United States


WASHINGTON (June 1, 2014)BuckleySandler LLP is proud to announce that it has obtained a $554 million settlement on behalf of its client the Navajo Nation. The settlement resolves the Nation’s landmark lawsuit alleging that the U.S. had breached its historical fiduciary obligations by failing to manage, invest and account for tribal trust funds and resources under the custody and control of the U.S. in a manner that would maximize the financial return from those assets.  This is the largest settlement obtained in any action by a single Tribe against the U.S. and exceeds, by more than $170 million, the largest single resolution in the more than 100 natural resource breach of trust cases filed against the U.S. by American Indian Tribes.

BuckleySandler partner Samuel J. Buffone, who has represented the Navajo Nation for many years in important litigation matters, led this representation since the firm was retained by the Nation in August 2012 to seek to advance this case, which was first filed in 2006.  Firm Chairman and Executive Partner Andrew L. Sandler led the long and complex settlement negotiations and partner Christopher F. Regan had principal responsibility for leading a BuckleySandler litigation team including, associates Brian Kelly, Augustine Ripa, and Veena Viswanatha, in completing discovery and preparing the case for trial.

“This has been one of the most satisfying legal representations in my career,” said Buffone. “I am proud that I have been able to play a part in the Navajo Nation’s decades long effort to obtain compensation for breaches of the trust obligations owed to it by the United States.”

Sandler added, “Our entire law firm is thrilled to have been able to achieve this result for the Navajo Nation.  We want to thank our co-counsel at the Nordhaus Law Firm for the important role that they played and express our appreciation for the efforts of Court of Federal Claims Judge Eric Bruggink who has patiently mediated this case for more than six years.  We also want to commend the U.S. Department of Justice and the Interior Department for their tireless efforts to work with us to resolve this important matter in a fair and equitable manner.”

“The agreement marks the successful conclusion of years of hard fought litigation and we are grateful for the efforts of the BuckleySandler team in securing this very significant result for the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie.

The BuckleySandler team worked closely with Don Grove of the Nordhaus Law Firm and Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie, Deputy Attorney General Dana Bobroff and former Attorney General Louis Denetsosie in pursuing these claims for the Navajo Nation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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