Applications open for consumer protection research grants

February 2, 2023 - 3:39pm

Students and faculty members are invited to submit proposals for consumer research projects that will be funded by the proceeds from the settlement of a landmark class-action lawsuit.

An interdepartmental committee composed of faculty members from across the university, as well as community leaders appointed by Oregon Consumer Justice, is seeking applications and will make award decisions. Information on grant eligibility, timelines, the submission process and more is available on the UO School of Law website, although applicants can be in any field, school or college.

The University of Oregon is receiving a minimum of $300,000 a year to conduct consumer-oriented research with a direct Oregon connection. The money becomes part of the UO Consumer Protection Research Fund.

The scope of possible projects is broad and includes topics such as securities and investment fraud, cyberfraud and cybercrime, insurance fraud, antitrust law, trade regulation, and more. Five categories of consumer research that could be eligible for funding include legal research, policy research, community impacts, consumer response and implementation.

The fund is the result of a lawsuit against the international oil company BP, which was accused of imposing unauthorized fees to customers using debit cards at its ARCO gas stations. Some $66 million from the $400 million jury award went unclaimed because many cards could not be traced to owners.

That money is being used to fund consumer protection and research projects, with the UO receiving $300,000 a year for 10 years for research projects. Oregon Consumer Justice is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting consumers and provides oversight on the use of the funds.