(a) It is the policy of the State of California to ensure that the unpaid cash residue and unclaimed or abandoned funds in class action litigation are distributed, to the fullest extent possible, in a manner designed either to further the purposes of the underlying class action or causes of action, or to promote justice for all Californians. The Legislature finds that the use of funds for these purposes is in the public interest, is a proper use of the funds, and is consistent with essential public and governmental purposes.
(b) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (c), whenever a judgment, including any consent judgment, decree, or settlement agreement that has been approved by the court, in a class action established pursuant to Section 382, provides for the payment of money to members of the class, any unpaid cash residue or unclaimed or abandoned class member funds shall be distributed in accordance with this section unless for good cause shown the court makes a specific finding that an alternative distribution would better serve the public interest or the interest of the class. If not specified in the judgment, the court shall set a date when the parties shall submit a report to the court regarding a plan for the distribution of any moneys pursuant to this section.
(2) The court shall make any orders necessary and appropriate for the payment, administration, supervision, and accounting of any unpaid cash residue or unclaimed or abandoned class member funds.
(3) Any unpaid cash residue or unclaimed or abandoned class member funds generally attributable to California residents, plus any accrued interest that has not otherwise been distributed pursuant to order of the court, shall be transmitted as follows:
(A) Twenty-five percent to the State Treasury for deposit in the Trial Court Improvement and Modernization Fund, established in Section 77209 of the Government Code, and subject to appropriation in the annual Budget Act for the Judicial Council to provide grants to trial courts for new or expanded collaborative courts or grants for Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel.
(B) Twenty-five percent to the State Treasury for deposit into the Equal Access Fund of the Judicial Branch, to be distributed in accordance with Sections 6216 to 6223, inclusive, of the Business and Professions Code, except that administrative costs shall not be paid to the State Bar or the Judicial Council from this sum.
(C) Fifty percent to one or more of the following: nonprofit organizations or foundations, to support projects that will benefit the class or similarly situated persons, further the objectives and purposes of the underlying class action or cause of action, or promote the law consistent with the objectives and purposes of the underlying class action or cause of action; child advocacy programs; or nonprofit organizations providing civil legal services to the indigent. Notwithstanding subparagraph (B), additional funds may be allocated by the court to the Equal Access Fund of the Judicial Branch, to be distributed in accordance with Sections 6216 to 6223, inclusive, of the Business and Professions Code.
(4) The court shall ensure that the distribution of the balance of any unpaid cash residue or unclaimed or abandoned class member funds derived from multistate or national cases shall provide substantial or commensurate benefit to California consumers that is roughly proportional to the number of California class members or amounts available from the judgment to California class members in the multistate or national class.
(c) This section shall not apply to any class action or cause of action brought against any public entity, as defined in Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or against any public employee, as defined in Section 811.4 of the Government Code. However, this section shall not be construed to abrogate any equitable cy pres remedy that may be available in any class action with regard to all or part of the cash residue or unclaimed or abandoned class member funds.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 17, Sec. 4. (AB 103) Effective June 27, 2017.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018