Third Party Cy Pres Awards in Google Settlement Unfair to Class


The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness (CCAF) today filed a reply brief in In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation arguing that the cy pres distribution in the proposed settlement is unfair to the class, when direct compensation through a claims process is feasible. The proposed cy pres arrangement was particularly abusive because the class’ funds were directed to organizations with whom class counsel and Google had significant prior affiliations. 

“If class counsel represented a single multi-millionaire instead of a class, there would be no question that it would not have the authority to redistribute its client’s assets to a worthy charity without the client’s permission,” said Ted Frank, director of CCAF. “This remains true even if the client was an especially odious Martin Shkreli-type who would only spend the money on particularly distasteful bacchanalia. The result should be no different when class counsel represents millions who had no say over the selection of their lawyer.”

In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation is a class action case where plaintiffs sued Google for alleged federal privacy violations over Google’s circumvention of Safari or Internet Explorer browser users’ privacy settings. Ted Frank originally objected to the settlement approval, cy pres recipients, class certification, and fee request on December 20, 2016.

>> Read more about CCAF’s objection here.

About CEI’s Center for Class Action Fairness

CEI’s Center for Class Action Fairness represents class members against unfair class action procedures and settlements. Originally founded by Ted Frank in 2009, the center has won millions of dollars for consumers and shareholders and won landmark precedents that safeguard investors, courts, and the general public.

Unfair settlements generally serve self-interested lawyers and third parties at the expense of absent class members, whose rights are traded away to settle a class action. The class lawyers want their fees and the defendants want to cheaply and quickly end the lawsuit, but the class’s interests often take a back seat in the process. The Center seeks to solve this problem by representing class members pro bono and presenting judges the other side of the argument. When the Center prevails, lawyers get less, class members get more, and the rule of law is strengthened.