Contact: Rosanne M. Van Heertum
Director of Development, The New YorkBar Foundation
May 4, 2009
COURT APPROVES $1.2 MILLION DISTRIBUTION IN TENANT SCREENING CLASS ACTION
The New YorkBar Foundation to fund tenant screening awareness programs
(Albany, N.Y. - 5/4/09) -Southern District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has signed an order approving a plan submitted by the plaintiffs for distribution of a cy pres fund (a class action settlement fund) of approximately $1.2 million in White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (04 CV 01611). The funds have been distributed to The New York Bar Foundation, which will provide funding through its grant making program for projects to be conducted by The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and the New York State Bar Association.
The case was brought in 2004 as a class action that alleged the defendant had issued thousands of tenant screening reports to prospective landlords that violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Deceptive Practices Act by failing to accurately, completely and clearly disclose information about Housing Court cases brought against New York City tenants. Part of the settlement of the case, which was approved by Judge Kaplan, included the payment of damages, that ultimately will fund tenant screening and awareness programs.
John R. Horan, Foundation president, said, "The New York Bar Foundation is very pleased to receive the cy pres fund distribution from this important case. This distribution is a result of the leadership efforts of the New York State Bar Association and its President, Bernice K. Leber, and the Foundation. We anticipate the same type of collaboration among the organizations involved will provide the highest quality programs to those affected by the tenant screening process."
The plaintiffs were represented by James B. Fishman of New York (Fishman & Neil, LLP), Andrew Bell of New York (Locks Law Firm), Seth Lesser of White Plains (Klafter Olsen & Lesser), and Stacey Canan of Washington, D.C.(AARP Foundation).
These funds will be used to further the goal of increasing awareness of tenant screening and the duties and obligations under fair credit laws and will enable the recipient organizations to attend and conduct training programs; conduct outreach to community groups, tenants, and small property landlords; and create and distribute educational and training materials about tenant screening issues. The projects will be conducted through joint efforts by the organizations and in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Founded in 1950, The New York Bar Foundation solicits charitable contributions to provide funding for the following purposes: increasing public understanding of the law; improving the justice system and the law; facilitating the delivery of legal services; and enhancing professional competence and ethics. For more information about The New York Bar Foundation, go to ://www.tnybf.org/">www.tnybf.org, phone 518-487-5651 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.