The University of Maryland School of Law's Consumer Protection Clinic was presented with a cy pres award of $395,000 on May 5 as the result of funds that had been unclaimed through a class action suit in Montgomery County courts more than a decade ago. The Consumer Protection Clinic was one of 13 consumer advocacy programs in Maryland to receive part of the $2.4 million judgment.
The award will enable the School of Law to continue operating the Consumer Protection Clinic, after financial cuts nearly shut its doors. "We had already taken steps to close it down," Jacob A. France Professor Michael Millemann said in a May 6 Washington Post article about the award. "This has been a long time coming, but from our perspective, it's a terrific result."
The funding was distributed to organizations that would use the monies for a purpose similar to the aim of the original lawsuit. Using federal, state and common law, the School of Law's Consumer Protection Clinic helps victims of fraud and other unfair or deceptive trade practices to enforce our consumer protection laws. Cases also involve home improvement contractor fraud, home foreclosure defense, auto repossession defense, debt collection defense or other matters faced by consumers in financial distress. Cy pres awards are made by will or trust to an organization which comes closest to fulfilling the purpose of the gift, usually charitable or educational, after the named recipient of the gift does not exist, has dissolved, or no longer conducts the activity for which the gift is made.