Western Culinary Institute class action update: Defendants seek another dismissal

This is an update on our culinary school consumer fraud class action against Western Culinary Institute, now known as Le Cordon Bleu Portland, and its parent corporation, Career Education Corporation.

A few weeks ago, defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration of Nathan Surrett and Jennifer Adams’ claims and to stay or dismiss the case.

Some background: Nate is the current class representative. The case is being pursued in his name and through his efforts. Before Nate, Jennifer Adams served as the class representative. She had to step down after the Court narrowed the scope of the class in a way that excluded Jennifer. (If that’s not confusing enough, Adams is Jennifer’s married name. She was previously Jennifer Schuster, which is why that name appears on some of the pleadings.)

Anyhow, back in April, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a really significant anti-consumer decision in the case of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. The case is bad for consumers because it strengthens big businesses’ ability to take away consumers’ rights to trial by jury through mandatory arbitration.

So four months after that decision, the lawyers for WCI/Le Cordon Bleu Portland/CEC decided to ask the trial court to dismiss our case because Nate and Jennifer were required to arbitrate their claims. Their motion is long and legally complex. It was filed under seal because it uses student records of the two named plaintiffs. That’s a long way of saying I can’t provide a copy.

While their arguments were complicated, there were a number of glaring problems. We filed our response on Friday. Here is a pdf copy: Response to Def Motion to Compel Arb and Dismiss

Fair warning: it’s a technical brief that may not make much sense if you don’t have a law degree and an interest in this very narrow area. The issues are important for this case and for other consumer cases. I’m posting it here for those following this case and, also, for consumer attorneys out there facing post-AT&T Mobility motions to compel arbitration.

I’m pleased with our opposition. Oral argument is scheduled for Friday, September 23 in front of Judge Baldwin. I don’t know whether Judge Baldwin will rule from the bench. We will update you when we know more.


Colby Beard says

I just found out about this case. I went to WCI from 2001-2002 and I feel the same way. Please let me know if i can become a part of this.

David Sugerman says

Colby-Based on those dates, you would not be part of the class. Sorry, can't help

Nick Merrill says

Your response to defendants' motion is a great read -- excellent argument, and huge help to lawyers representing consumers. Thank you.

David Sugerman says

Thanks Nick. Glad I can help other consumer advocates. That's what it's all about!

Robert Crain II says

Hello I went to the school in 08 and grad in 09. I just wanted to know what I need to do if anything to make sure I am a part of this. I didnt opt out so if I need to get paperwork together or something I would appreciate a heads up. Im currently getting destroyed with the student loan payments by the way.

Katherine Howard says

I had posted in correctly (I think September) about the fees being charged in the P&B programm at LCB...I stated the Diploma fees.....I went throught the AOS program (what a rip off!) paying $42 K....now it is...

$35,050* for students enrolling in our November 7th, 2011 classes. Tuition for our 2012 classes will increase to $37,050*

They should not be allowed to offer the degree program..much less the fee is doubled offering no valid education.

I have defauleted, made reduced payment arrangements, made one payment, and am now unemployed...just called to cancel my arrangements, they will be at my throat now! This is only my private loans...$63 K...I have no way of paying this....

David is there anything i can do? Can a collections attorney speak to them or something? any probono people in Newport, Or?

LM says

Graduated from WCI in the spring of 2008 with a 4.0 GPA. Was only able to find employment in entry level jobs in low-end bakeries (that required hardly any of the skills I had learnt in school) working alongside illegals and others with no professional training at all. Have since moved on to another vocation.

David Link says

I attended western culinary from 1999-2000 what i think is disspointing is that if this is truly a class action lawsuit why is this lawsuit only limited to specific people when there are obviously more individuals affected by these liars? The lawyers need to include all the students who have suffered in order for the legal system to get the larger picture! I never worked in the culinary field and i was never offered an internship in the area i was interested in working. if you are working this case to truly help the people who have suffered from this school... you need to include us all!

Admin says

It doesn’t work that way. You needed to file your claim within 2 years of the date you learned about the fraud. We filed in 2008. Under the rules that apply, we are only allowed to go back two years
from the date of filing.

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