Chief Justice Roberts Turns Up The Heat On Cy Pres Pacts

Law 360 reports on Justice Roberts' comments on the issue of cy pres settlements which Center for Class Action Fairness objected to in the Facebook privacy settlement.

Justice Roberts' note on Monday highlighted many of the concerns with cy pres settlements that have been articulated by district and appellate court judges, including Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, who dissented from the opinion upholding Facebook's Beacon settlement in September 2012, on the grounds that it deprived aggrieved users of an actual remedy. Six Ninth Circuit judges unsuccessfully voted to rehear the challenge to the pact in February.

Besides listing “fundamental concerns” about the general fairness of the remedy and the process for choosing settlement recipients, the chief justice also appeared critical of several elements of the Facebook pact, including the placement of a Facebook representative on the new foundation's board and the barring of future claims from those injured by Beacon not only when it was an opt-out program, but also after it had been changed to an opt-in.

"As judges look at cy pres awards, the chief justice's statement may cause them to look more closely at such factors as the universe of people covered by the settlement and to more closely scrutinize what type of organization is receiving the funds, who runs and funds it, and if it serves the cause of privacy that purportedly prompted the class claims in the first place," said Steptoe & Johnson LLP partner Jason Weinstein.

Read the full article at Law 360.