Unclaimed Funds in Class Action Lawsuits Go To Charities
David P. Miraldi
David P. Miraldi
Did you ever wonder what happened to unclaimed funds in class action settlements? Have you ever received a letter that tells you that you are entitled to some funds from a class action, but then you don’t fill out the paperwork because it is either too long or too confusing? People entitled to recover from the settlement often do not bother to fill out the paperwork to be able to receive their share. Sometimes as much as 80 percent of the settlement goes unclaimed. Until recently, the unclaimed funds reverted back to the defendants who had agreed to pay for their alleged wrongdoing.
One law firm in Painesville deserves special recognition for what they were able to do with the unclaimed funds from class actions. As part of a 52 million dollar settlement, the firm worked out an agreement that any unclaimed funds would go to more than 40 charities. As a result of this arrangement, the law firm was able to distribute over 14 million dollars in unclaimed funds to more than 40 charities. This law firm, Dworken & Bernstein Co., LPA, and its partner, Patrick J. Perotti, continue to do this in the class action lawsuits that they handle.
The distributions are made possible because of a legal doctrine known as cy pres. Cy pres comes from the French phrase, "cy pres comme possible" which means "as near as possible". In the class action lawsuits, this doctrine is used to see that unclaimed funds go to groups "as near as possible" to the people wronged in the class. The court has to approve the groups that will receive the funds.
Our hats go off to this law firm for using this doctrine to make our communities better.
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