Bar News - March 9, 2007
Cy Pres Award Benefits Consumers
By: Susan Noon
Cheers rose from attendees at the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s Fellows and Donors Reception in Manchester last week when attorneys Charles G. Douglas, III, and Edward O’Brien presented a check for $152,254 to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. The two attorneys successfully resolved a number of class actions involving un-refunded insurance premiums, resulting in thirteen thousand New Hampshire residents receiving an average of $200 each. The cy pres funds donated to the Bar Foundation will support future consumer-protection advocacy by New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA). NHLA is a non-profit law firm offering legal assistance to elderly and low-income residents. “Ed and I are very pleased that we could bring this money back to New Hampshire and put it to good use, in addition to the consumer refunds that have already been made,” stated Douglas.
Charles Douglas of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, in Concord, and Edward O’Brien of O’Brien Law Firm, in Amherst, won a settlement in excess of $4 million for consumers who should have received pro-rated refunds from automobile life and accident insurance premiums that were due upon sale, trade-in, or early pay-off of their car.
“Class action law suits are instrumental in helping people access justice when an individual is unable to pursue legal action as a singular matter. It is very appropriate to have the residuals from this case earmarked for consumer protection advocacy at NH Legal Assistance, since cy pres translates as next best use or as near as originally intended. We appreciate the court’s order and the attorneys who supported having the funds directed to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation for this purpose,” said David G. Snyder, executive director of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation.
The New Hampshire Bar Foundation is the largest financial supporter of free or reduced-fee civil legal assistance for low-income residents and public education programs about the law and the courts in New Hampshire.