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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

VLSP Receives $350K Cy Pres


By Susan Cox, Director of Development


In the past few months the Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) has received several cy pres checks amounting to more than $350,000. Cy pres award expectations are not included in VLSP’s budget due to their unpredictable nature, but this amount is the equivalent of one dollar in ten of VLSP’s annual support. The importance of cy pres awards to VLSP’s legal services and diversity programs cannot be overestimated.

Cy pres funds remain when the parties in a class action suit have been given a full opportunity to make a claim. At that time, with the agreement of all parties, cy pres funds can be distributed to one or more nonprofit organizations. VLSP serves low-income people of all ages, races and conditions without reference to politics or other limiting factors. For that reason, among others, VLSP can be the perfect answer when two sides in an argument are looking for a solution everyone can agree upon.

Class action settlements can take many months, and the negotiations between plaintiff and defendant to decide upon the cy pres recipients somewhat longer, so BASF/VLSP is often unaware that we are in the running for an award until that very welcome letter or telephone call. Late in 2011, we received $240,000 and this January we received checks for $63,000 and $48,000.

We are indebted to several attorneys and law firms for the $240,000 cy pres check: William Bernstein and BASF and VLSP President Kelly M. Dermody, Lieff, Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; Elizabeth Peterson, Kanner & Whiteley; Lisa M. Mezzetti, Cohen, Milstein Sellers & Toll; Jennifer W. Sprengel, Cafferty Faucher and Robert A. Wallner, Milberg.

The $63,000 cy pres award was initiated by Lauren C. Russell, Trump, Alioto, Trump & Prescott.

The $48,000 check was the final settlement of an earlier, much larger 2009 cy pres award which involved many attorneys and law firms. This most recent check was sent to us by: Christopher T. Micheletti, Zelle, Hoffmann, Voebl, Mason & Gette and R. Alexander Saveri, Saveri & Saveri, Inc.

Thank you to all the judges and attorneys for awarding VLSP cy pres funds.

Our partners at BASFAhern Insurance Brokerage