Frank v. Gaos: Cy Pres Gets Its Day at the Supreme CourtJune 8, 2018
Increasingly, courts presiding over class actions employ a controversial practice called cy pres (‘‘see-pray’’) that diverts damages owed to injured class members to non-party charitable institutions. The theory behind cy pres is that, when getting damage awards to class members is difficult, giving that money to a relevant charity is the next-best result. The U.S. Supreme Court has never considered whether cy pres is legitimate or how it is supposed to work. That may soon change: on April 30, the Court granted certiorari in Frank v. Gaos (No. 17-961), which presents these questions. The decision in Frank may have enormous implications for class-action practice. At minimum, however, it should provide much-needed clarity on this contentious subject.
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