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The Supreme Court decision that was expected to resolve the appropriateness of cy pres-only class action settlements, Frank v. Gaos, ___ U.S. ___, 139 S.Ct. 1041 (2019) (per curiam), did not turn out the way most observers (including the Third Circuit) anticipated. Cy pres awards, which distribute part of a settlement fund to nonprofit organizations whose work is determined to indirectly benefit class members, are sometimes used as components of settlements in cases where it would not be practicable to distribute funds to every individual class member via a pro rata scheme. A cy pres-only settlement does not include any direct monetary relief to absent class members. Courts and commentators have raised questions regarding the permissibility of cy pres-only settlements. Instead of clarifying whether cy pres-only settlements satisfy the “fair, reasonable and adequate” requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2), however, the Supreme Court remanded and directed the lower courts to consider whether the named plaintiff had standing to bring her internet privacy claims in the district court in the first instance, in light of Spokeo v. Robins, 578 U. S. ––––, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016).

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