By DOUG SHERWIN, The Daily Transcript
The Mogin Law Firm is overseeing an effort to distribute more than $40 million in cy pres awards from settlement funds in the Smokeless Tobacco Case I-IV to 45 California legal societies, organizations and charities, including many with offices and partnerships in San Diego County, according to Daniel J. Mogin of The Mogin Law Firm PC.
In the Smokeless Tobacco Cases I-IV, a certified class of California smokeless tobacco purchasers alleged that U.S. Smokeless Tobacco and related entities (“U.S. Smokeless Tobacco”) engaged in sales practices that made it possible for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco to monopolize the market for moist smokeless tobacco products in violation of the antitrust and consumer protection laws of the state of California. The plaintiffs alleged that, as a result, they paid more for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco moist snuff tobacco products than they would have absent the alleged conduct.
The San Diego County charities and organizations scheduled to receive cy pres awards include the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, University of San Diego Legal Clinics, San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Audubon Society and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Additional legal organizations that partner with Legal Aid Society of San Diego include Bay Area Legal Aid, Bet Tzedek, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Volunteer Legal Services Program of San Francisco, East Bay Community Law Center, Western Center of Law & Poverty and Legal Services of Northern California. Satewide organizations with San Diego offices and/or presence include California Indian Legal Services, California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., California Trout Inc, CHP 11/99 Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation.
“As a not-for-profit legal center, we are very grateful to be included in cy pres awards from the Smokeless Tobacco cases,” said Greg Knoll, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. “Generally we are restricted due to funding when it comes to pursuing cases of legal and social justice, and cy pres awards like these help to provide us with added flexibility that is critical to our mission and success.
“Dan Mogin and his team of lawyers are truly rare individuals who have a great community heart. We are so fortunate that Dan elects to give back to the community in such a meaningful way.”
At the conclusion of class action cases, it is common to have funds that for a number of reasons cannot be distributed to the class members technically entitled to the funds. The doctrine of “cy pres” allows the court to do the “next best thing” and distribute the remaining funds to one or more charitable organizations. For more information on the Smokeless Tobacco Cases visit californiasmokelesstobaccosettlement.com.