The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Legal Services of Greater Miami and Legal Aid Services of Broward County receive $193K cy pres award

Top Stories

'By donating the unclaimed funds to Legal Services of Greater Miami and Legal Aid Services of Broward County, we are hopeful that unclaimed funds from other class actions will also be donated to these and other worthy organizations'

LSGM headquartersLegal Services of Greater Miami and Legal Aid Service of Broward County will split nearly $193,000 of unclaimed funds from distributions to class member victims of the Cash 4 Titles RICO criminal enterprise. Each organization shall receive $96,130.33.

Upon the recommendation of co-class counsel Lawrence A. Kellogg of Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman in Miami and Gordon Dobie of Winston & Strawn in Chicago, the judges overseeing the class action, District Court Judge James Cohen and Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres, ordered that all remaining class funds be divided equally between these two legal aid organizations serving South Florida.

“As lawyers, we have worked for over two decades to bring a measure of justice to many around the world who were victimized by the Cash 4 Titles criminals,” Kellogg said. “As we close out distributions to the victims, it is important to remember that many people do not have the resources to hire lawyers like us to protect their rights. We feel it entirely appropriate to use the unclaimed funds to give back to those in the community who need legal services but can’t afford them. By donating the unclaimed funds to Legal Services of Greater Miami and Legal Aid Services of Broward County, we are hopeful that unclaimed funds from other class actions will also be donated to these and other worthy organizations.”

The recipients of the award, Legal Services of Greater Miami and Legal Aid Service of Broward County, provide free civil legal services to low-income individuals and families in Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Broward counties respectively. The funds will allow the organizations to build capacity to meet the increasing demand for their services, according to the organizations.

“We welcome cy pres distributions that help support our legal advocacy on behalf of consumers and are incredibly honored to have been selected as a recipient,” said Monica Vigues-Pitan, CEO of Legal Services of Greater Miami. “We thank the judges and the attorneys in this case for this unexpected award that supports our mission of advancing access to justice and economic opportunity.”

The funds are unclaimed distributions from class action litigation arising from a massive RICO enterprise scheme operated by Cash 4 Titles in the 1990’s. Regulators, which shut down the scam in 1999, said the scheme bilked 2,500 lenders for $315 million. Under the multi-layered marketing scheme, funds loaned to Cash 4 Titles were stolen from lenders and used in a criminal enterprise,

As co-class counsel, Kellogg and Dobie brought class action litigation against various defendants in the United States and the Caribbean to recover the victims’ losses.  Over a nearly 20-year period, they recovered judgments and settlements of more than $85 million. The final distributions to victims have recently concluded. Some victims have not claimed the final distribution, which has resulted in surplus funds. These funds will be split evenly between the two South Florida legal aid organizations that represent the interests of low-income consumers, according to Legal Services of Greater Miami.

“With this donation, we can make an additional lasting impact on our community’s access to justice,” Dobie said. “We thank Judge James Cohen and Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres for agreeing to allocate the remaining funds in the settlement for these two terrific legal aid organizations. It will help ensure that those who need it most have access to legal assistance and a fair shot at justice.”

Brent Thompson, executive director of Legal Aid Services of Broward County, added: “We extend a heartfelt gratitude for this contribution to Legal Aid Services of Broward County. This donation empowers us to champion justice, fairness, and equal access to legal services for the vulnerable and underserved in our community.”

News in Photos

Columns

Be a Judicial Lawyer

Columns | Jun 05, 2024

The Mindful Lawyer: Mindfulness and Anxiety — A Process of Elimination

Columns | May 09, 2024

Be A Referring Lawyer

Columns | May 03, 2024

Be a Listening Lawyer

Columns | Apr 04, 2024