The Florida Bar Foundation received a cy pres award of $57,588.08 in January. Robert W. Murphy of The Murphy Law Firm in Ft. Lauderdale facilitated the donation.
Under cy pres, courts can approve a charitable donation out of unclaimed class action funds or a direct grant in lieu of damages to an organization that could vindicate class member rights in the future.
Murphy represented a consumer who settled with a credit union on behalf of a class. The case involved consumers who financed the purchase of personal property which was used as collateral and then repossessed. The class members had been sent post-repossession notices that deprived them of their rights or failed to comply with the disclosure requirements.
Murphy, who will join the Foundation’s board of directors July 1, has a history of facilitating cy pres awards for the Foundation. In 2018, Murphy represented a client in a similar case concerning the rights of consumers whose cars were repossessed. A $341,897 cy pres award was directed to the Foundation from the class action settlement. And, in 2020, the Foundation received $16,019 from another case of Murphy’s, bringing the total of gifts facilitated by him to $415,474.20.
“I would encourage both practitioners and judges to recognize that there’s going to be a potential for a cy pres in every single class action that involves money being paid out,” Murphy said. “Civil legal aid is a natural cy pres recipient for unclaimed settlement funds.”