Forbes on Redish on class actions

Excellent article in Forbes on liberal professor Martin Redish’s take on class actions.

Redish sees similar constitutional difficulties with so-called cy pres (pronounced “see pray”) awards, where judges accept the fact that nobody is going to spend 20 minutes filling out a form to receive a $2 settlement check and award the money to a charity instead. Some argue this doctrine has a noble lineage going back to Norman times (the term is Old French for “as near as possible”). But Redish traces its use in class actions to a student article in the University of Chicago Law Review in 1972, which gave lawyers and judges the idea for how to dispose of money nobody would claim.

Cy pres awards are troubling because they raise the specter of favoritism. Is the judge approving payment to the Red Cross because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s the pet charity of the admissions director at a school he wants his kids to attend? They also bring a party into the litigation that doesn’t belong there. “The law doesn’t say anything about the charity,” Redish says. “The charity hasn’t been injured.”