Cy Pres

As a regular component of Bet Tzedek’s annual revenues, Cy Pres awards, play a significant role in the underwriting of the vital programs and services we provide to our low-income clients. These awards have allowed us to expand the reach of our Employee Rights project, Housing project, Consumer Rights programs, Conservatorship Clinics, and numerous other direct services and educational offerings.  Bet Tzedek is very grateful to the attorneys and law firms who proffer the agency as a potential recipient of residual funds in the various class action lawsuits in which they are involved.

CY PRES DISTRIBUTIONS TO BET TZEDEK

If you, your firm, or someone you know is party to or counsel on a class action case involving potential cy pres awards, you can nominate Bet Tzedek as an awardee. Awards can be accepted to benefit our general work, or can be designated to a specific practice area: economic justice (employment rights, human trafficking, homelessness prevention), aging with dignity (elder abuse), and rapid response (immigration and transgender rights).

If you have any questions, need documents or information, or are interested in designating the Bet Tzedek as a cy pres award recipient, please contact Jen Petrovich, Vice President of Finance, at jpetrovich@bettzedek.org or 323-549-5815.

Want to learn more about Cy Pres?  Continue reading below . . .

Cy Pres Doctrine

The term “cy pres” originates from old Norman French meaning “as near as possible.” The cy pres doctrine found its legal roots in charitable trusts: if a donor’s trust document contains an impossible, impracticable, or illegal objective, courts have the power to amend the trust while keeping as close to the donor’s original intent as possible.

The cy pres doctrine expands this concept to class action distributions in limited situations as well. When recovery for class members is impossible or impracticable, if class members are difficult to identify, or if unclaimed funds remain after all class members have received their portion of the settlement, courts may elect to distribute class action settlements to charitable organizations.

Before cy pres funds can be distributed to a non-profit entity, a court must approve the distribution.

California allows cy pres funds to be distributed to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to the indigent. Bet Tzedek is an appropriate designee of cy pres funds for almost any type of class action in California state court.

We are an ideal cy pres recipient for class actions involving employment law (such as wage-and-hour, discrimination, or harassment cases), but under California law we are appropriate recipient of monies arising out of consumer, antitrust, privacy, securities, or any other class action types as well.

Federal law regarding cy pres differs across the Country, with case law providing guidance. In the Ninth Circuit, federal case law requires cy pres fund recipients to have a “nexus to the interest of the class members” such that the distribution of cy pres funds provide the “next best relief” to the class. 

The following types of federal class claims are well matched to Bet Tzedek’s mission and easily enable the qualifying nexus to be found: 

  • Wage and hour claims are at the heart of our Employment Rights Program (“ERP”) services
  • Discrimination and harassment class actions also find close nexus to our ERP practice
  • Consumer claims, particularly those involving scams that target seniors, may hold a nexus with our Senior Center Outreach and Elder Abuse practices.
  • Securities law, IP suits, and antitrust claims may be viewed as closely aligned with our Small Business Development project, which supports business owners by protecting their intellectual property, and working with them to understand, draft, and amend contracts and commercial leases.

We hope you will join the many lawyers and firms across California that help support Bet Tzedek by including us as a recipient of cy pres funds. These monies are essential in sustaining programs like ours that serve low-income individuals and communities.

Be Part of the Solution

Join Bet Tzedek in its work - there are endless ways for you to contribute. Find one that’s right for you and get involved today.