Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is urging the Supreme Court to take action to protect consumers following a class action lawsuit that will reexamine the rights of consumers in class action lawsuits.
As reported by ABC, Miyares joined a group of 20 other state attorney generals in filing an amicus brief urging the SCOTUS to hear Lowery v. Joffe. Lowery v. Joffe is a recent case that stems from a 2010 Google class action lawsuit. In the original lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that Google’s Street View cars collected millions of consumers’ private data, including emails, passwords, and usernames, on their WiFi networks without consumers’ knowledge.
The parties settled, creating a $13 million cash fund to pay attorneys and organizations dealing with consumer protection and education. However, the harmed consumers received nothing from the fund. This is known as a “cy pres-only” settlement, where class members receive no direct benefit from a court settlement. Lowery v. Joffe was filed to determine if such settlements are fair.
“Cy-pres-only settlements like these typically benefit corporate giants and trial lawyers. They rarely deliver justice to the victims harmed by large corporations,” Attorney General Miyares said. “All too often, they are a way for big business to escape justice for injuries they inflicted on consumers. I hope the Supreme Court takes this case and reins in the abuse of this sort of settlement.”
According to The Royal Examiner, similar “cy pres-only” settlements, where class members receive no direct benefit, have garnered the attention of federal courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. They are designated when there are residual funds in class action lawsuits, probate matters, and other court cases that cannot be distributed to the class members or beneficiaries for a variety of reasons.
The full brief for Lowery v. Joffe is available here.