5th Candidate for Trial Lawyer of the Year

Corporate America and irresponsible government officials consistently trash lawsuits as “frivolous” and trial lawyers as “greedy.” Why? Because lawsuits and trial lawyers hold them accountable when they abuse their power, break the law, and violate people’s rights.
Want proof? Just look at the five finalists for Public Justice’s 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. This coveted honor goes annually to the lawyers who won the verdict or settlement that made the biggest contribution to the public interest in the past year. Here is the 5th and last candidate.

Navajo Nation v. U.S.

The United States government holds in trust 14 million acres of land belonging to the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the country. As part of its agreement with the Nation, the U.S. government leases parcels of that land for farming, housing, timber operations and oil and coal exploration. For nearly seventy years, however, the government conducted its operations without any accurate accounting of the funds, failed to get fair market value for what it leased, and failed to monitor the extraction of natural resources from the Navajos’ land. So the Navajo Nation never received the true royalties it was owed.

Navajo Nation v. U.S. was filed to hold the government accountable. Led by Samuel J. Buffone (who passed away just before he was nominated) of BuckleySandler in Washington, D.C., and Alan R. Taradash of the Nordhaus Law Firm in Albuquerque, with co-counsel from both firms and the Attorney General’s Office for the Navajo Nation, the case lasted for eight years. The lawyers spent enormous time and resources compiling evidence of the government’s misconduct over decades. Finally, in what then-Attorney General Eric Holder called a “landmark resolution,” the United States agreed to pay $554 million to the Navajo Nation. It is the largest settlement ever obtained by a Native American tribe from the federal government.

 

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