Update: Consumer fraud class action against Career Education Corp and Western Culinary

This is a longer update on our case against Career Education Corp. and Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Portland. It’s an update for those following the case, including members of the class.

Brian Campf and I were back in court Friday. Judge Baldwin issued a number of rulings from the bench.  As well, Career Education Corp. defendants are trying to appeal Judge Baldwin’s previous decision denying their motion to compel arbitration of the claims of roughly half of the class. Let’s take these dense things one at a time.

1) The Friday motions and rulings: Judge Baldwin heard and decided three motions on Friday. First, he granted in part our motion to compel production of discovery from an investigation report of Career Education Corp placement practices that had been disclosed earlier. This is a win for the class. We’re looking forward to reviewing this information.

The class lost two motions filed by Career Education Corp. Judge Baldwin granted in part a motion to allow the Career Education to do a survey of class members by mailing a questionnaire to members of the class. We opposed only because we believe that the form of the survey was confusing and potentially misleading. Judge Baldwin limited the questionnaire but has allowed them to go forward. While we disagree with Judge Baldwin’s ruling, we respect his authority and will cooperate with the process so that we can move forward to trial.

Judge Baldwin also granted a motion that removes approximately 300 people from the class. The 300 or so stopped attending and did not withdraw and thus were dismissed for attendance or academic reasons. The Court concluded that they should not be part of the class. We argued against the motion. While we disagree with this ruling, we recognize that Judge Baldwin has authority to make the choices that he made. As part of the process, those who are no longer part of the class will be sent notice informing them that they are out.

2) The new appeal: We learned on Friday that the Career Education defendants are appealing Judge Baldwin’s prior ruling denying their motion to move approximately half of the class into individual one-case-at-a-time arbitration. We won that argument and believe that Judge Baldwin correctly denied their motion. At the same time, the Career Education defendants sought to stay proceedings in the trial court while the appeal goes on. Appeals can take years, so it’s pretty apparent that they are simply trying to avoid our January trial date.

We’re in the process of moving to dismiss the appeal. We believe that they are not allowed to appeal the order in question. This is a technical, dry area of the law involving concepts of procedure and jurisdiction. We remain optimistic that the appeal will be dismissed and that we will stay on schedule. But even if the appeal goes forward, we will fight there too. So the bottom line on this is know that we are continuing forward, that we remain confident, and that Career Education Corp. can hire more lawyers, file more motions, and try to delay more. But they will not shake us off this case.

3) Parting thoughts: One of the things about the cases that we handle is that I have the luxury of choice. I will not take on a case unless I believe that it is right, and I will not pursue a case unless I believe it is important. But once we commit, we dig in. Stonewalling only makes us more determined. And so we dig deeper. And so we go on.

I’ll update when we have more news. By the way, we do more frequent and shorter updates on our major cases on Facebook. You can get that news if you are a Facebook user by liking us here. When I post on this blog, I generally leave a note on the FB page, so it’s also an easy way to keep up with this blog. As well, you can always follow me on Twitter @DavidSug, though that’s more of a personal account. I don’t always self-censor, so it’s definitely not for everyone.

Thanks for your continuing interest in this case and our work. We’ll let you know when we know more.


Katherine Howard says

All-in-all seems like a productive day. Thank you again David for your diligence.

Bethany Diaz says

Thank you David! It sounds very positive and I am very much looking forward to January!

Kathy Reinhardt says

I graduated from Western Culinary Institute. I believe both the school and Sallie Mae are at fault. I tried for 9 months after I finished my externship to get a job in the baking and pastry field. I ended up going back to my medical billing job. Only problem now is I have over $26,000.00 school loan debt. I pay almost $300.00 a month to to keep Sallie Mae from harrassing me non-stop. I figure I might have it paid off by the time I retire. That way they can't take my social security. All I wanted was to go to school to have a chance at a better life. Thank you for trying to help all of us out here.

Lisa says

Hi Kathy,

I get what your saying, I attended the school 09-11.

Now I have finished school, I graduated April 2011, I find myself jobless, degree-less, and education-less. Yes, I took all my classes, passed all my classes, met their requirements to obtain a degree and have yet to receive one.

I don't know if I am one of the 300 students excluded from the class action, I have yet to receive anything since the initiation of it (I don't check my le cordon bleu email), so if there's anyway to find out, I would appreciate it. Regardless if I am excluded or not, I sure hope you're able to help the rest of the class out!


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