Settlement: Le Cordon Bleu/Western Culinary and Career Education Corp.

It only took 10 years. Late yesterday, we agreed to settle our consumer fraud class action against Western Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu-Portland, and Career Education Corp.

Under the settlement, class members will get refunds of 44 percent of the amounts that they paid for tuition, books, and fees. The 44 percent is reduced for class members who owe money directly to the school. (That reduction does NOT apply to student loans; it’s only if you owed money directly to the school.) The settlement must be approved by the court, so it is not a done deal, and we still have far to go.

There are some other features to the settlement. About $1 million in debts owed by students back to the school will be wiped clean. The defendants will pay attorney fees on top of the refund amounts. The Court will decide how much in attorney fees we will receive.

There is one other feature that is kind of a big deal. In the world of student loans, a borrower can defend against a collection action by raising the fraud of the school. Under the settlement, class members can still litigate the fraud of the school as a defense to loans. Also, they can use the information that we gathered over the last 10 years to help defend against collection actions. It is possible that former students could have their loan balances wiped away.

The student loan wipe-away is something that class members will have to undertake on their own–Sallie Mae and Navient were not parties to this case. Class members who want to pursue that option will need to hire their own student-loan defense lawyers. If you’re in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, we can provide a reference.

So if you’ve read this far, you probably want to know how much and when. If all goes well, payment would be sometime this summer. But it could be delayed. As far as how much, it’s simply math. If you paid $40,000 toward an associates degree–many paid more–and you don’t owe money back to the school, your 44 percent refund would pay back $17,600.

To get the money, you will need to file a claim. Claim forms should be going out in March. Once the claim period starts, you will have 90 days to file your claim. If you don’t file it by then, you lose your right to make a claim, and Career Education Corp. gets to keep the money. We don’t want that to happen! So we’ll be working with you to make sure that you get your claim filed.

Also, this settlement doesn’t apply to those who have to go to arbitration. If you’re in the arbitration group, we can continue to help you, but you have to help us help you. We are pursuing refunds for the arbitration group and will do whatever is necessary to achieve a recovery. If you’re a member of the arbitration group and haven’t done so, please sign up through our portal. There are deadlines for filing for arbitration. If you don’t take action, your rights will be lost.

So that’s the story. We’re pleased with our progress and this development. And of course, we will continue forward.


Katherine Howard says

Thank you for your good work Mr. Sugerman, it has been a battle well fought.
If a person owes and in arrears, does the payment go to Navient?

David says

Hi Katherine-
The money goes to you, not Navient. You might want to use it to litigate or possibly negotiate a payoff. Or you might choose to keep it. Your call.

K A says

What is the refund of payments made directly to the school? $30k was in student loans and approximately $10k was paid directly to Cordon Bleu, that 10k doesn't include interest charged. What would be the proposed return on this scenario?

David Sugerman says

Whether you paid all in cash, all by borrowing, or by a mix of loans and cash doesn’t matter. The refund looks to how much you were charged.

Lisa B says

Thank you for all your hard work on this! My Son graduated from Western in 2004, are there any other avenues he can take?
He still owes $11K but is current on both loans that started out at $39K.

Michael says

Thank you for the hard work on this. If I have moved since I graduated how will I get my Claim form

David Sugerman says

Hi Michael-
Please contact us at (503) 228.6474, and we can get your updated contact information and confirm that you are covered by the case.

Carmen Ford-Treacy says


I just saw the KGW report about your work and the Le Cordon Bleu settlement. I was a student to received an AOS in Patisserie and Baking in 2005. I too was disillusioned about my prospects, as promised by Western Culinary, when I graduated. I was hoping to have a new career, away from the administrative office world. I tried unsuccessfully to find good paying employment and when that didn't work out, I tried to start my own bakery. After nearly 6 months, I decided it was best for me to return to my administrative work. Eventually, I found a decent paying administrative position, and with my husband's support, I used all of my pay to pay off my Sallie Mae loan. I would be very interested in filing a claim. Many thanks for all of your wonderful work in getting this resolved for many of us who feel like we were had.

David Sugerman says

Hi Carmen-
I'm afraid the news report left out something important. The group that is covered by the case are those who enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. I'm afraid the case does not cover those who attended in 2005 and that we can't help you.

Matthew says

Does this settlement apply to students who enrolled and started before March 2006, but attended and graduated after that date?

David Sugerman says

Hi Matthew-
Based on an earlier ruling of the court, if you signed your enrollment agreement before early March 2006, you're not included.

Katie says

I haven’t read into the details. Why does the claim only cover those who attended between March 2006 and Mach 2010? My husband attended between 2003-2005. Great work nonetheless.

David Sugerman says

It's a bit technical, but it has to do with the filing date of the case and the statute of limitations. The court ruled on this many years ago, and that ruling locked in the dates and qualifications.

Duncan MacGibbon says

My son attended the Institute and I believe he has a right to file a claim, based on when he enrolled. He will be watching for future information, buy could you please add my email to your contact list? Danny forwarded this message to me, but I want to stay informed and help make sure that he does not miss any future communications or deadlines.
Thank you,

David Sugerman says

Hi Duncan-
We need to confirm that your son is covered by the case. The news missed an important point: It covers people who first enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. Please have your son call us if he thinks he qualifies, and we can confirm and then get his updated information if he is covered.

Meghann A. says

I signed an enrollment agreement in March of 2005 and graduated in May of 2006. This particular settlement won't apply to me. However, you are saying that the information gathered from this could possibly be used by me to fight Navient on the amount I still owe them? The original loan amount of $19k was at a ridiculous (criminal even) interest rate, but I was told that the employment I could obtain would pay it off in no time. That employment never materialized and due to low wages I had to put my payment into forbearance a few times. I have paid them $26k so far (mostly in interest) and still owe $60k at $900 a month!!!!!! I'm barely making the payments and have no forbearance left. If I stop paying, they will come after me and garnish my wages which will instantly make me homeless. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all of your hard work for the people.

David Sugerman says

Hi Meghann-I can't tell you how many times we've heard this story. It's why we've stayed with this fight. There may still be a path forward for you, but its' a bit complicated. If you can call us at 503.228.6474, I can discuss it with you. We're a bit crazy with calls, so if you don't get through, I will call you back.


I graduated Le Cordon Blue in 2002 under the restaurant management program. My tuition in was paid in full. Is there any recourse for me?

David Sugerman says

Our case covers only people who first enrolled or attended between March 2006 and March 2010. So no, we can’t help you.

Katherine Howard says

Is this settlement considered income, and be taxed?

David F Sugerman says

Hi Katherine-
I am not qualified to give tax advice, and I really don't have any idea whether amendments to the tax code earlier this year affected the recovery. For purposes of consulting with a tax professional, the best way to think of this is that your individual recovery is a partial refund, and our fees are being paid directly by the defendants.

Colleen Reyes says

Great work and thank you! I am drowning in loan debt from a worthless degree and this gives me hope. I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I have to use a lawyer and will it be a long process or what would it entail?

Vi Reynolds says

Hello, i attended Western culinary in November 2006 -Graduated May 2008. What documents do you specifically need to file the claim in March? I recently requested Navient to send me documents showing when the loan was taken and to which school. Is that enough? I don’t have enrollement paperwork from 11 years ago just loan docs and my degree.

David Sugerman says

Hi-If you contact us through our website we should be able to confirm your membership and whether you fall into the class group or arbitration group. If you fall into the class group, it's unlikely that you will need to do much more than file a claim--we should have your proof and should be able to fill out most of the claim form for you. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.

Anna Hoffman says

I attended at the Orlando, Florida campus, in 2008. Do I qualify?

David Sugerman says

Sorry, no. Our case only covers Portland.

Pedro Hernandez says

Do I have to request a claim from or will it be sent to my house?

David Sugerman says

If you are on our list, a claim form should come to you. You could call our office at 503.228.6474. We can check to make sure you’re on the list and update your address.

Ryan Rau says

Any path of action for those who were enrolled after 2010? I graduated in 2014 and still owe on the majority of my loan.

David Sugerman says

Unfortunately, I don't have any suggestions.

Ileana says

Hi, I'm trying to call the office but there is no respons is there any other way to get a hold of someone I can speak to? Thank you in advance

David Sugerman says

We’re closed today because of snow. If you leave a message for Marla at 503.228.6474, we will get back to you.

Irene says

I have questions if I attended to Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu 2007 to 2010 not successful for future careers you will able help me or only in Oregon?

David Sugerman says

Sorry, but I'm not licensed in Nevada, and our case covers only the Portland location. I'm afraid we can't help you.


Kaitlin says

Hi there, I enrolled and started in August of 2010. What qualifies the cutoff to March of 2010? Would I still be considered?

David Sugerman says

The court set the end date of March 1, 2010 years ago. That ruling prevents anyone who started after that date from joining the case.

Cary Baker (formerly Cary Hatfield) says

Hello. I was a former student that was interviewed by your office over 10 years ago. Unfortunately it was decided years after that meeting that the class would only cover students that enrolled between 3/06 and 3/10 and I missed that timeframe by a few months. I have read your post above (and have followed it for years) and now I'm incredibly interested in the possible student loan forgiveness information. I feel stuck in this debt, even though I am not in collection status (painfully paying each month for 10 years with another 10 years left to go. No longer working in the food biz). I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I need to hire a lawyer for this and will it be another 10 year process? Thank you for any info and thanks for all your hard work!

David Sugerman says

Hi Cary-
Thanks for your note. Best bet is to call our office at 503.228.6474. Depending on where you live, I can probably make a referral and answer some of your questions.

Stephen Eugene Cox says

I graduated from the Le Cordon Blue school in Chicago (Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago). I attended 2003 - 2005, have you heard of any class action suits involving this school? It sounds as if C.E.C practiced deception among all of their culinary schools. We were fed the same lies and b.s. here as well! Can someone poi t me in the right direction if you have heard any other class action suits involving them.
Thank you!

David Sugerman says

I’m not aware of anything.

Erica says

Would those who co-signed for the loan be eligible?

David Sugerman says

The settlement covers only the purchaser of the education, which is to say the student.

Jordan says

Thanks for your help David. What is the anticipated legal fees we would have to pay and does it come out of our refund?

David Sugerman says

Under the settlement agreement, legal fees do not come out of your refund amount. They are paid to the lawyers for the class separately. The court will decide the amount of the fees. (All of this assumes that the court approves the settlement, including the refund amounts and fees.)

Stacy DeMartelaere says

I recently moved and never received a claim form, how can I get one sent to me? I didn't get my address changed until recently and my former roommates likely threw my mail away... I also would like a referral to the student loan attorneys that you mentioned.

Thank you for all your hard work!

David Sugerman says

Hi Stacy-
If you call us during the week at 503.228.6474, we’ll get you squared away.

Dana Wheeler says

I am wondering if you all represent anyone from other campus' outside of the Portland area. I was a student at the Le Cordon Bleu location in Orlando Fl and I am a loss for help as this is what happened to all of us here too but i am finding no local representation and im not sure how to go about this process.

David Sugerman says

We are only handling Oregon claims. I am unaware of anyone doing these cases in other states besides prior cases in California. I have a colleague who is handling debt defense claims for people who owe money on loans related to LCB programs. Here is his contact information

Larry Wick says

Congratulations on a well-deserved settlement.
1. Has the settlement been approved by the Court?
2. What is the claim filing deadline?
3. What is the deadline for filing for arbitration?
4. My son has three WCI loans which appear to be covered by your settlement. Loan documents for two have been lost. How can we determine which ones must be arbitrated?

David Sugerman says

Thank you. Larry-Please have your son contact us ASAP. Best bet is to call me at 503.228.6474. This is very important. Claim deadline is June 7, 2018. Approval hearing is June 8, 2018.

mark Cadigan says

Does this cover classes graduating in 1999?

If so, how do we file?

David Sugerman says

It does not. Only Mar 2006-Mar 2010 in Portland.

Jacob zukowski says

So I started at Western and I think 2003 maybe 2004 and due to my mother getting ill and my step father passing away I transfer to Pennsylvania culinary in 04 At the admissions office I had to retake a bunch of classes that I’ve already taken at Western and basically when all is said and done my student loan percentage went from 3% at Western to18% of Pennsylvania and they are both le cordon blue schools So basically they were telling me I had to pay about $900 a month right out of school unfortunately my mother passed away and left me a little bit of money and ended up paying them about $35,000 don’t know if I can get any help with this but we are at Western culinary when the transition was going on from the old building to the new we have no product no structure complete shit show

David Sugerman says

I think we handled this by phone. If not, please call us.

HollY Peralta says

If i have my school debt in collections will this 44% refund be going to collection or myself?

David Sugerman says

Hi Holly-
The money is yours. You can apply it toward your debts or use it to hire a lawyer to negotiate a better deal or even try to legally reduce or avoid the debt. You can call us at 503.228.6474 for more information. -David

Chelsea says

Are there any updates as far as if the pay out is happening? I submitted my paperwork and am just wondering if this is real or not. If it is real, do you think refunds will happen this year or far away future?
Thank you for keeping us in the loop through our this long ordeal!

Chelsea says

Are there any updates as far as if the pay out is happening? I submitted my paperwork and am just wondering if this is real or not. If it is real, do you think refunds will happen this year or far away future?
Thank you for keeping us in the loop throuh this long ordeal!

David Sugerman says

Did you file your claim or sign up for arbitration? Depending on when you attended, you are either part of the class action settlement, in the arbitration group, or outside of the time period. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.

David Sugerman says

Hi Chelsea-
Things are looking good. While we still must get final approval from the court, I think the settlement is likely to go through. If it does, payment would probably be late July or early August.

Rocky Rivard says

So, heads up to any students who were attending from 2005-2007, I didn't make the class, as I enrolled few months before class timeline. I just got a notification from my credit monitor CreditWise, that Transunion updated my rating. On May 7th I had $43,604.78 in delinquent Navient student loan debt. As of today, May 8th, my score jumped up 116 points and ALL STUDENT LOAN DEBT AND DELINQUENT PAYMENT HISTORY REMOVED. Yes, that Just happened. I can only attribute it to this:

Check your Credit report. is free and legit. You may have just gotten an impossible glitch in the matrix blessing. I give God all the glory of this. A miracle.

David Sugerman says

Wow.That's quite the story. Thanks Rocky.

Mareena McKenzie says

Thank you for helping all of us with this

David Sugerman says

It’s been a long haul, and while things will wind up this summer for the class, the arbitration group must continue on. Thanks for your kind words. -David

Heather McNeil says

I filled out the forms online and didn’t receive any paperwork after. Can you confirm that you have everything you need from me?

David Sugerman says

Hi Heather-
We don't communicate with clients through blog posts. You can use the WCI Fraud Claims portal to contact us.

jonathan woody says

I went to 2012 do I qualify? Please send me a email if I do at

Stevie H says

If we are included in the settlement, can our parents who cosigned our loans still participate in the student loan forgiveness program? Although my portion of my student loans have been paid off, my mother owes a majority of her portion still. I understand she will not benefit from the 44% pay out, but is there something we can do to help with her portion of my student loans?

David Sugerman says

The money follows the purchase, not the loans.

Jordan says

If the settlement is approved on Friday, is the money received considered taxable income or is it exempt for taxes?


Tyler J Jensen says

Any update on the final approval hearing?

Kathy says

David thanks for all your hard work. It is appreciated

Joshua says

Any update on the final approval hearing?

David Sugerman says

As noted elsewhere, final approval was granted, and checks are expected to be mailed out August 10. Sorry that your comment got buried in the onslaught. If you want more information and better response, I would suggest that you follow us on our firm Facebook page. You can read about detailed updates and have a portal for direct message to us.

Rebecca Kelleher says

Hi David,
My husband and I both went to Brooks Institute in CA, which was owned by Career Education Corp, CEC, and there is a huge amount of miss-leading the schools did during our time there. Is it by any chance included in the suit against CEC? There are is a large number of students that were unable to finish their degrees when Brooks was closed by CEC and a huge number of us who were miss-lead. Even my husband and I who graduated have had issues since he got a different degree when he finished than was expected. Just curious!

David Sugerman says

Our case only covered culinary in Portland. You might want to talk to a lawyer in CA., but I suspect the time to file ran a long time ago.

Robert Davant says

I have a potential client that missed the deadline for the Culinary Institute of Portland settlement. I believe the deadline was in June 2018, but he claims he did not know about it until recently. Any way he can petition for inclusion in the class?

David Sugerman says

It sounds like you called and talked to my assistant. Short answer: I don't see how this would be possible.

Erik says

Hey, I'm messaging here on behalf of a sibling who lives abroad and missed the deadlines. Does anyone know if today's court ruling on the Obama-era student debt relief act is another option for people like my sibling?

David Sugerman says

It depends on the type of loans. The recent ruling applied only to student loans made under the direct loan program

Erik says

Also, in response to my last comment: was WCI accused of fraud with regard to placement rates?

David Sugerman says

The current Department of Education under Secretary DeVos is very hostile to fraud claims. It's possible that the court ruling will lead to real relief, but I have my doubts. And yes, we claimed that they inflated placement rates.

David Sugerman says

Placement rate fraud was part of the case we pursued for people in the 2006-2010 era.

Joe ey says

Hey, I graduated at I believe 2003? Top of the class however... i used to teach and they told me quit my job if I was really trying to do to fo this. So I quit my 40k annual job and drove in at 8$ an hour. I was told this degree would put me head n shoulders above everyone else. 15 years later yes I'm in charge finally back at 40k however I have a mortgage payment for something that my mom taught me and some tricks they showed me that I couldve learned in a weekend .

David Sugerman says

Our case focused on the 2006-2010 period. I’m not surprised that some of the same things were going on earlier. Thanks for sharing that piece of history.

Virginia Allen says

My son was the first batch of Le Cordon Bleu students in Las Vegas in 2004 who graduated in 2006. I am still paying the Federal Loans and Private loans of over $50k at the 7% and 13% interests respectively. Is there any hope on his case?

David Sugerman says

I'm not licensed in Nevada and cannot advise you. I suggest you talk to a lawyer licensed in that state about his options. You would want someone who practices in the areas of consumer protection, with experience in student loan law.
-David Sugerman

Amy Ewton says

Can you please aid me with starting a class action against Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale?

David Sugerman says

I am not licensed to practice law in Arizona and can't assist you. I suggest you contact someone there who has experience with consumer fraud class actions.
-David Sugerman

Shelly says

Is this still Available?

Fran Tyler says

I was a student at LCB WCI during this time period. I was never notified of this class action lawsuit. Is it possible to see if I qualify? Thanks

David Sugerman says

Feel free to call our office at 503.228.6474. The short answer is that it’s too late, even if you were part of the class. There is a good chance you were not part of the class. To qualify, you needed to sign your enrollment agreement and start classes in Portland between March 2006 and March 2010. If you signed your agreement before that date or if you dropped out without withdrawing, you would not have been included.

Cynthia Basinger says

Thank you for all the info here. My son attended in California in 2008, finished in 2009. I sadly co-signed for a private loan that he was coerced into signing. He had a terrible accident in 2013 leaving him permanently disabled. Is going to school and has been able to defer loan until three months ago. In forbearance status. Is there any chance we could get out of this if we found an attorney in California who could plead the fraud case applying the case law and precedent you so successfully applied to the Le Cordon Bleu suit in Portland?

David Sugerman says

It's worth talking to someone in your local community who has expertise in student loan debt defense. It may be possible to discharge the loans because of your son's disability. One place to find good referrals is the National Association of Consumer Advocates. You can search here by state and by practice area. Good luck.

Andrea says

As a student during this time period at WCI in Portland, I was following this waiting to hear about it. I saw that it was delayed, and figured I would hear about it once settled. I heard nothing, until today when I was wondering about it and googled it. Why weren't the students affected contacted to file their claim? And now it's too late? This is incredibly disappointing as I had well over $30,000 in loans and tuition to them during this time. My SL debt is almost doubled now due to default, interest, and fees. The private loans they talked me into have been the worst possible financial damage to me. Is there really nothing to be done at this point?

David Sugerman says

We tried very hard to notify people, using mail, email, and social mediA. I am sorry that you did not see any of our notices and updates. Most people did.

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