Pro Bono Litigation Clinic Takes on Wage Act Cases Thanks to Receiving Cy Pres Award

The Pro Bono Litigation Clinic at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago will now start taking Wage Act cases after receiving more than $170,000 in cy pres funds from a class action Wage Act case.

Julia Bikbova, a 2007 graduate of John Marshall, and Alexander Tolmatsky, a 1991 graduate of John Marshall, represented a class of workers in a claim under the Illinois Wage Act. The two attorneys worked together to prosecute a class action concerning misclassification of certain workers and unpaid wages. The Pro Bono Litigation Clinic was selected as a cy pres recipient.

Cy pres awards are residual funds in class action cases (and occasionally in other types of proceedings like bankruptcy and probate matters) that, for any number of reasons, are unclaimed or cannot be distributed to the class members or beneficiaries who were the intended recipients. Under the cy pres doctrine and Illinois law, courts can distribute these residual funds to appropriate charitable causes, such as John Marshall’s Pro Bono Litigation Clinic.

“Through my practice, I see many injustices and inequities in the areas of wage, compensation and treatment of employees, particularly immigrants,” Bikbova said. “I know there is no way for a single practitioner like me to address such needs alone, and I knew that John Marshall was best positioned to undertake this mission in Chicago.”

Thanks to the cy pres award, the Pro Bono Litigation Clinic now has the funding necessary to start taking on Wage Act cases of its own.

“The Clinic is honored and thankful for being selected as the recipient of the cy pres award,” said Professor J. Damian Ortiz, Clinical Professor & Director of Pro Bono Litigation Clinic. “We believe that the cy pres award is an invaluable way to advance the interests of laborers and employees throughout Illinois. The Clinic will be able to provide employees legal representation, education, self-claim filings and continuous legal services.”

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