Over $500 million dollars in class action settlement monies are unclaimed each year in the United States.
Many Americans mistakenly believe that class actions benefit attorneys more than any other stakeholder in the lawsuit. Yet, class action lawsuits are one of the few legal devices by which meaningful value can be returned to the community when large entities like corporations or governments have committed wrongdoing against individuals.
A class action is a means to corporate accountability, but when the settlement (or sometimes the judgment) exceeds actual claims, options like returning the funds to the bad acting defendant undermine the effort.
Invoking cy pres, we can put unclaimed funds back into the community. When a class action settlement includes a cy pres stipulation, the beneficiaries are nonprofits that advance the common good.
Ohio Lawyers Give Back was formed to encourage class action law firms to more proactively anticipate unclaimed funds by naming charities and designating a reasonable sum to distribute for charitable purposes.
Under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and equivalent state law rules, final approval orders can include provisions requiring that all or a designated portion of the unclaimed funds be paid to charity. This approach is especially just when the case involves a large actor who has wrongfully collected monies from the class. Disgorgement rather than reversion to the defendant advances the public policy of the class action device.
A successful law career is even more gratifying when you are able to affect positive change in the community. Class actions attorneys are in the unique position to do that. Generous use of the cy pres apparatus lends the opportunity to direct significant distributions to worthy causes while bolstering the lawyer’s credibility and undermining unjust disparagement of the class action practice.
To encourage and promote the use of cy pres stipulations in class actions, Ohio Lawyers Give Back will work for no charge with any attorney or firm to provide methods which have been successful in reaching settlements which include a cy pres provision. Will you join us?