Black Farmers Say They Were Left Out of Deal

     (CN) - Four months after a federal judge ordered distribution of the $1.2 billion granted to black farmers for their discrimination claims against the U.S. government, additional claimants are coming forward.
     The plaintiffs in Pigford v. Glickman alleged that racial bias had for years driven the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deny benefits to black applicants and ignore their complaints. The action led to a consent decree in 1999 and monetary relief.
     Thousands of individuals missed the deadline to apply for the money, however, leading to a renewed class-action effort for relief. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman approved a $1.2 billion settlement of those claims in October 2011.
     Friedman set the distribution of settlement funds in motion this past August, but a recent order reveals that numerous claimants still seek reconsideration of their claims after receiving a negative response.
     "Since the issuance by the claims administrator of claims decisions in this case, the court has received hundred of letters and pro se motions from non-prevailing claimants who seek reconsideration of their claim determinations," Friedman wrote on Tuesday. "The court has determined that rather than allowing each of these pieces of correspondence to be filed on the docket, efficiency would be served by allowing a representative sample to be filed and by eliciting responses from both class counsel and the government."
     The judge expects those responses by Jan. 30.