California Consumer Protection Foundation (CCPF) is one of the very few foundations providing grants to community-based advocacy organizations that promote policies and programs protecting and benefiting consumers throughout California. CCPF was founded in 1991 by the Honorable Ira A. Brown Jr. (deceased) of the San Francisco Superior Court of California to administer and distribute funds from the precedent establishing Levi Strauss consumer action lawsuit. Since that time, CCPF has effectively and efficiently distributed more than $30 million with additional consumer trust funds to primarily underserved communities. CCPF’s history, experience, and relationships with California communities attest to its ability to appropriately distribute cy pres funds through an open and competitive process.
The California Consumer Protection Foundation has always supported a best practices approach to the administration of cy pres awards – one that seeks to support community based organizations that are focused on addressing the underlying legal issue that actually precipitated the court action. This is why the foundation commissioned a paper on the status of the cy pres doctrine. The conclusion of that research, and in discussions with stakeholders, was that the cy pres doctrine was, in many ways, misunderstood, sometimes misapplied, and increasingly under attack. Among the recommendations from the research and stakeholder interviews was the value in bringing together the broad, relevant parties involved to inform a more transparent and accountable process for the creation and distribution of cy pres funds.
On June 11, 2010, CCPF assembled a group of stakeholders, the purpose of which was to facilitate a discussion among complex litigation judges, attorneys from both the plaintiff and defense bar, and consumer advocacy organizations to explore new approaches in preserving the cy pres doctrine, again, with a focus on establishing a transparent and accountable process for settlement distribution. The result of this meeting was memorialize in an opinion paper approved by the participants. CCPF then launched an education campaign to distribute widely this information with the intention of improving distribution practices. While this important convening occurred several years ago, the underlying principles and cause for our concern remain the same. As a defender of the cy pres doctrine, we hope you find this information not only valuable, but compelling, and that you will insist on and advocate for best practices in cy pres distribution.