Cy Pres Awards

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The term cy pres comes from the French, “cy pres comme possible,” meaning “as near as possible,” and the doctrine is often applied in class action cases in which full restitution to all injured parties is either impossible or infeasible, such as when the amount of damage per person is insignificant even though the aggregate damages are large. It can also be employed in probate matters when gifts fail, or in the area of charitable trusts.

Under cy pres, the 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. In practice, cy pres prevents a windfall to the defendant while serving to deter future violations.

In many such consumer class action cases, the class of consumers is typical of the underprivileged Floridians who receive Florida Bar Foundation-funded legal assistance, making the Foundation an appropriate choice as the beneficiary of the cy pres award.

While it is ultimately up to the courts to determine whether the cy pres award is fair and reasonable and if the recipient is appropriate for the award, plaintiff and defense attorneys can each play an important role in directing cy pres awards to the Foundation.

View the list of attorneys who facilitated Cy Pres Awards.

For more information about cy pres awards, contact Bruce Blackwell, Executive Director, The Florida Bar Foundation, at (407) 960-7000.