The Center for Individual Rights recently filed a brief at the Supreme Court defending the free speech rights of plaintiffs in class action settlements. In Frank v. Gaos, plaintiffs are challenging a settlement of $8.5 million that Google agreed to pay for violating the privacy rights of their users. The settlement agreement granted the entire award to plaintiff’s attorneys and third party charities. Several of the plaintiffs who had their rights violated by Google objected to this agreement and specifically objected to the payment to third party charities. The court nevertheless approved the settlement.
CIR filed a brief in support of the objecting plaintiffs. We argue that the distribution to other parties, known as a cy pres award, violates the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs because it compels them to support charities that they might disagree with. The court allows plaintiffs to opt-out of having their portion of the settlement be donated elsewhere, but as CIR argued in Friedrichs v. CTA, opt-out requirements are an unnecessary burden on First Amendment rights.
You can read our full brief here.
And you can read more about the case from the Competitive Enterprise Institute here.