A bank accused of overcharging its customers turned into a $106,000 windfall for Maryland Legal Aid yesterday as executive director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr. (second from left) accepts the cy pres award. The money is left over from a $16 million national class-action settlement fund against Chevy Chase Bank that alleged it overcharged fees to its banking customers in the 1990s. Presenting the award is Thomas J. Minton (left) and Kathryn Miller Goldman (second from right) of Goldman & Minton in Baltimore; and Claire Prestel of Public Justice in Washington. Goldman & Minton, Public Justice and Baltimore attorney John T. Ward represented the plaintiffs in the case, which started in 1999.
“This award couldn’t come at a better time,” Joseph said. “Legal Aid’s funding was cut almost $1 million by the Maryland Legal Services Corp. and this is a significant start to closing the gap.” Joseph added that a portion of the award will fund a one-day, statewide Legal Aid staff conference in the fall on efficient and effective strategies for meeting the needs of low-income Marylanders using a human rights framework.