May 14, 1998
The Clinton administration should settle a $2.5 billion lawsuit filed by black farmers over Agriculture Department discrimination and avoid a costly, time-consuming trial, a federal judge says. ``I've always believed this case would be better solved through some sort of resolution, some sort of settlement,'' U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Wednesday. ``Ultimately, we have to try this case or settle,'' he said. ``Maybe it can get resolved and people will feel that justice is being done.'' The judge heard arguments Wednesday on whether the case -- now expanded to 400 plaintiff black farmers from across the South -- should represent an entire class of farmers estimated at 2,500 who suffered discrimination through denial of farm loans, crop subsidies or other benefits from 1983 to 1997.