SCOTUS Punts on Cy Pres Issue

March 21, 2019

In an 8-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a case regarding the fairness of cy pres settlements back to the Ninth Circuit, Law360 reports.

At issue in Frank v. Gaos is a settlement between Google and a class of its users that would give $2 million to the lawyers, but through a mechanism known as “cy pres,” send $5 million to third parties rather than the class members. The members would not receive any settlement money at all. The Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit and asked judges to decide whether or not the Google users showed evidence that they suffered real-world injury as the result of the search engine sharing their searches.

Despite the remand, the article says the “high court may soon curtail the practice.” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent that the “class action should not have been certified, and the settlement should not have been approved."