Supreme Court To Review Fairness of Cy Pres Awards In Class Action Settlements

The Supreme Court today granted certiorari to address for the first time whether a class action settlement that awards cy pres but provides no direct relief to class members is "fair, reasonable, and adequate." The case, Frank v. Gaos, involves a settlement arising from Google's tracking of Internet users by circumventing their browsers' privacy settings. The settlement awarded cy pres funds to several organizations but resulted in no change in Google's business practices nor payments to class members. EPIC objected to the proposed settlement on three separate occasions, arguing that, "The proposed settlement is bad for consumers and does nothing to change Google's business practices. The company will simply revise its notice so that it may continue to engage in the privacy-invading practice that class counsel claimed at one time provided the basis for class action certification and monetary relief." EPIC has routinely opposed class action settlements that fail to compensate class members or change business practices. In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Court would soon need to address "fundamental concerns" surrounding the use of cy pres in class action settlements. EPIC has proposed an objective basis to evaluate cy pres awards.

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