The Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation has received a $50,000 cy pres award, according to Executive Director Amy Johnson. The funds will be used to support the organization's mission of ensuring that all Arkansans have access to the civil justice system, particularly those who cannot afford an attorney and who are facing legal issues affecting basic human needs. "Cy pres," which means "as near as possible" is a legal doctrine often applied in class action lawsuits when a resulting recovery cannot be distributed to all members of the class.
The award arose from a state class action lawsuit initiated by El Dorado attorney Bob Depper in 2005 following an early January explosion at the Teris LLC hazardous waste incineration plant. The explosion led to the evacuation of about 1500 El Dorado residents, with a number of those affected complaining of headaches, nausea, and eye irritation. The lawsuit settled in August 2012 for $320,000. As of late December 2013, just over $50,000 had gone unclaimed by class members affected by the explosion. Mr. Depper proposed that the unclaimed amount be awarded to the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation.
"It was important to me that these funds go to a nonprofit organization that supports the cause of justice," said Mr. Depper. "I have always believed in supporting legal aid."
Mr. Depper has practiced law in El Dorado since 1981. He is a principal at the Depper Law Firm, Inc., which is a full-service general practice firm. Throughout his career, Mr. Depper has handled numerous class action lawsuits. He also served on a committee that led to the formation of Arkansas Volunteers for the Elderly, which was established to provide pro bono attorneys to assist elderly Arkansans with civil legal matters.
For more information about cy pres awards, visit our cy pres page.