Legal Aid Receives $445,368 Cy Pres Award
Award Result of Effort by Dworken & Bernstein Attorneys
This summer, Legal Aid received an unexpected and extremely generous cy pres award, through a case handled by Dworken & Bernstein. The award was from a class action settlement with Grange Mutual Insurance Company. When all members of the class cannot be located for award distribution, the court may approve a charitable donation out of the unclaimed residue; in this case, $14 million of the $51 million award went to charities. Legal Aid was one of 34 selected charities that received gifts ranging from $221,500 to more than $440,000. Dworken & Berstein partner Patrick Perotti explains: “Deciding who will receive cy pres is challenging, but knowing the work done by Legal Aid made the decision easy. It is probably no surprise that the highest percentage of persons victimized by abuse, fraud, mistreatment, and discrimination are the poor, uneducated and elderly. The court system exists to prevent these things, but people in these groups cannot afford to retain an attorney to access the court system. The problems these individuals face, left unresolved, can result in loss of housing, continued violence, and safety. Serving thousands of people, Legal Aid lawyers and volunteers fight domestic violence, consumer fraud, protect the rights of children and the elderly, and provide access to justice, regardless of the ability to pay. With this track record, Legal Aid is a logical choice for a cy pres award.” Executive Director Colleen Cotter and Board President Edward Icove accepted the check at a July 18th luncheon hosted by Dworken & Bernstein at Cleveland’s Renaissance Hotel.
“This gift was totally unanticipated and we are very grateful,” said Ms. Cotter, “This
donation not only helps support the work of Legal Aid, but is a very meaningful confirmation that the parties, counsel and court involved in this suit recognize that we all have responsibility to ensure that people have access to justice.”
Dworken & Bernstein will continue to use their initiative, Ohio Lawyers Give Back,
to promote the use of cy pres in class action settlements. For details on the program and to watch a video about the gift to Legal Aid, visit: www.ohiolawyersgiveback.org