Jacksonville Area Legal Aid received a $51,356 cy pres award from the proceeds of a federal class-action lawsuit in which it was determined the plaintiff patients were improperly billed by a hospital.
Under cy pres doctrine, the courts can approve a charitable donation out of unclaimed class action funds.
Jim Kowalski, JALA CEO, said the award will support the public service law firm’s work, including consumer protection.
“We are extremely grateful to the attorneys as well as the judge in this case. We hope this inspires others involved in class action litigation to consider JALA as a recipient for future cy pres awards,” Kowalski said.
The French term cy pres means “as near as possible.” The legal doctrine is applied in class-action cases in which full restitution to all injured parties is impossible or unfeasible, such as when the amount of damage per person is insignificant, even though the aggregate damages are large.
Legal aid programs often are the beneficiaries of cy pres awards, as the work they do benefits people who cannot afford to hire an attorney but face civil legal issues like those of the class from which the award was derived.
JALA’s mission is to provide high-quality legal assistance to low-income and other special-need groups.