Education and Campaign

Cy Pres: Resources for Consumer Protection
A campaign to promote transparency, efficiency and accountability

Protecting the rights of consumers, particularly those from underserved communities, is becoming increasingly difficult in a poor economy where resources are very limited.

A goal of CCPF is to preserve, protect and defend the cy pres doctrine and promote the equitable distribution of cy pres funds by educating those who have the power or influence to designate settlement funds to protect consumer interests.  To accomplish this, CCPF launched a campaign in Spring 2011 to promote transparency, efficiency and accountability in the administration of cy pres funds.

CCPF believes that standardized policies and best practices must be established on how to:

–  Create and distribute cy pres funds in order to ensure benefit to consumers, particularly those from underserved communities.

–  Conduct an accountable and transparent process to ensure distribution is in concert with the underlying purpose of the lawsuit.

Why this campaign?

Class action settlement awards should be directed to and benefit the damaged class (plaintiffs) and be used as ‘close as possible’ to meet the original intent of the settlement, without reversion to the defendant.  When it is difficult to locate or determine each plaintiff’s actual damage or when the amounts of individual awards are too nominal for distribution, the settlement may include “cy pres.”

Cy pres funds should not be distributed in an ad hoc basis. Because of the arguable “mis-use” of cy pres funds and a general “anti-consumer litigation” climate, the cy pres doctrine is under attack.  Credible distribution through consumer trust funds, such as those administered by CCPF, can provide major indirect benefits to class members, such as health services, education, training, and advocacy.  For examples of the benefits achieved through the use of cy pres funds, please read our grantee profiles.

Campaign activities

–  Newsletters

Starting in Spring 2011, CCPF will produce and distribute monthly newsletters to highlight the work achieved by recipients of cy pres funds and share CCPF-related news, such as new funding opportunities.  If you are interested in receiving these newsletters, please sign-up here.

–   Forum on the Cy Pres Doctrine

On June 11, 2010, CCPF convened complex litigation judges, attorneys from both the plaintiff and defense bar, and consumer advocacy organizations at the offices of the Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco.  The purpose of the forum was to discuss the cy pres doctrine and best practices to ensure a transparent and accountable process for settlement distribution.  This meeting informed the development of CCPF’s education campaign on the cy pres doctrine.

Click here to read a report about the forum, including a discussion of best practices of cy pres distributions and recommended next steps.

Reports and articles referenced at the forum:

Please note that any views or opinions expressed in these reports are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of CCPF.