Update: Western Culinary Institute/Le Cordon Bleu Portland and CEC consumer fraud class action

For those tracking this case, two updates worth noting.

1. As noted recently, Western Culinary/LCB Portland and Career Education Corp filed a motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss this case. More info on that motion here. The hearing date on the motion has been changed to October 7, 2011.

2. There have been many media reports on the settlement of California Culinary Academy (CCA) class action. Some have erroneously reported that the settlement includes this case against Western Culinary Institute. Not correct. I am not connected with the CCA case, so I don’t pretend to know what is going on there. But our case has not settled. That is why we are pushing forward toward trial.

Thanks for checking back and for your continuing patience and interest in the case. If you’re a class member, know that our team continues the long fight. Call or email if you have questions.


waylon zabriskie says

i am a former student of WCI and am interested in joining the class action suit.

David Sugerman says

Waylon-Thanks. Please contact our office during office hours so that we can get information to figure out whether you are part of the class. Best bet is phone 503.228.6474 M-F 8.30 - 5.00

Paula Kent says

I am a 2008 HRM graduate from WCI-can I be included in the lawsuit?
My experience is similar to many others-I did not receive the "education" I expected from a Le Cordon Bleu facility. I cannot find a job. During employment interviews I am [constantly] told that previous management training is "not necessary" since I will be trained in their style. Luckily I had the funding to attend school without taking out loans-but, what a waste of money!
P Kent

David Sugerman says

Thanks for your comment. Can't answer your question without more information. It would be better if you contacted us privately so that we can get more detail.

anne says

my biggest problem was not enough cooking space in the class, (before the 45% dropout rate, that is). it bugs me that, even after selling all those accounts to collectors, they must, still, make a whopping profit. i recently quit, 2 months in, after learning more about gov. loans. now, struggling to survive, i find out my knife kit is worth maybe .30c on the dollar; similar story with uniforms. thats based on manufacturer's online price and the whopping $800 they charge for knife kits. after hearing a different $ amount every time i asked what my final debt would be upon leaving, they are sending my acct, (massive profit and all) to collections. in my only job interview during class, the chef, a graduate of wci, wanted to know first, 'how are your knife skills?', which we learned ABOUT in class, but not to gain proficiency. lcbc PREPARES YOU TO PREPARE for a job, at a n inflated price that, itself, implies much more. i wouldn't recommend it to anyone. no reflection on the instructors

leisa stevens says

My son is his last 3 weeks of school at Le Cordon Blue in Scottsdale, AZ, he will most likely be "kicked" out of school tomorrow (2/2/12) because he has been told so many different things about his tuition and what he owes that he is going to refuse to sign the promise to pay for the tuition he still owes, he has been told different things by different people every month for the last year, now when it is coming down to the wire and classes will be done in 3 weeks he will be kicked out because the school has their head so far up the dark side that they won't even work with him, my question, is their any attorney's he can contact in AZ to talk to about what he and other students have gone through in the last couple of years, and now the new students are paying $20k less for the education that my son got...
thanks for any info you can give me!!!

David Sugerman says

Sorry, but I am not licensed in Arizona. Suggest you check with National Association of Consumer Advocates http://www.naca.net to find Arizona consumer lawyers

William Allen says

I was in class of 2007-2008 and I believe I'm already part of this lawsuit since i got a letter in the mail. but I would really appreciate a chance to talk to someone live and find out updates.

David Sugerman says

Thanks. I'll post a bit later about where we are. You can always call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.

Andrew weaver says

I was just wanting to know exactly where we are with this lawsuit?

William Allen says

I agree with Andrew what is the current status of things

David Sugerman says

Update posted. Go to most recent blog post (23 Mar. 2012).

anthony wajda says

I was student from 03/07 to 05/08 I feel we were over charged for books,uniforms,culinary arts tools kit. suit case with knives,spoons etc. about 100 pieces. Ive filed about 1.5 years ago, no response yet on lawsuit. submitted my name, etc. What's going on with case agaist wci.

David Sugerman says

If you look at later postings on the blog, you will get an update. Or like us on Facebook for quicker updates. -David

Sean FitzGerald says

I graduated in 1985 .I was in the first class back when the school was called Horst Mager Culinary Institute. The school was a scam even then. My class and I were sold a fantasy of white tiles, tall hats and a career in the "culinary arts". My diploma was my passport to a life of poverty, and that was back when you could still get a job after graduation.
It won't do me any good, but I hope you are able to do something about this and other for profit schools/scams! The way these for profit schools scam ex service men is a crime and must be stopped.

Eugene P O'Neal Jr says

I attended Horst Mager Culinary Institute from 11/84 to 11/85 when I graudated. I agree with my fellow chef brothers and sisters. Things only got worst when it changed (08/85) to Western Culinary Institute. I wish to enter this class action lawsuit. Please advise. Thx's.

David Sugerman says

Thanks for the note, Eugene. Sorry, but you are well outside the class period.

David Sugerman says

Sorry, but you do not meet the class definition.

Debbie Register says

Hello, I graduated Western Culinary Institute in June of 2000 and went back for my Baking and Pastry and graduated in 2004. When I started in 1999 we were promised a Le Cordon Bleu certificate, we were the first class that the Le Cordon Bleu Program was started. When it came time to graduate we were asked to pay another $1500.00 to get the Le Cordon Bleu Certificate otherwise it would just say Western Culinary. I did not pay the extra $1500.00. My Baking and Pastry Certificate does say Le Cordon Bleu. I was wondering if I qualify to be a part of this class action law suit as I have consolidated both student loans into one at a fixed interest rate. I still owe around $25,000.00 paying on that monthly. Thank you for you time, Debbie Register

Sarah Schneider says

I graduated in 2007 and would like to find out if I am eligible to be included in the lawsuit. Thanks.

Corey says

I am a WCI graduate of 2006. When I began they guaranteed job placement. After graduation my diploma meant absolutely nothing to any employer. When receiving my first bill 6 months after graduation, I was to pay $980.00/month for 25 years. After speaking to several administrators at financial aid about this as well as employees through Sallie May there was nothing I could do. So I have been forwarding harassing calls and voicemails for many years. Before I went to this school I had perfect credit, now I live in my car, a 94 geo metro. If there is any help available, this would be the time for it.

David Sugerman says

Please contact us privately to see whether you are part of the class. Best bet is by phone 503.228.6474 between 8.30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Mon-Fri.

Rubin Mays II says

I am an 2003 gruduate and curious to if i was included in the lawsuit.

David Sugerman says

Sorry for the delay in response. No, you are not in the class period.

Nelson Fitzsimmons says

I graduated from WCI in August of 2001. We were the last class that graduated with just a diploma and not an AA. We were told that if we went to a community college and took a math and English class, this would complete the requirements to actually have a associates degree. I was so excited about that so I went and took these classes and then was told by WCI they would not accept any outside credits. When I tried to transfer the credits out to my community college to get the degree through them, they pretty much laughed at me. As someone who had never done any post high school education this was very disheartening.

Candice W. says

What is the status of this case? Has any judgement been decided? Thank you.

David Sugerman says

The case is still on appeal. We do regular updates on our Facebook page and on the blog here.

Timothy Valentine says

Has the suit been settled or is there still time to act on it . I went to wci in 2005-07 is this the time period.

David Sugerman says

The suit has not settled. It is still on appeal. If you enrolled in 2005, you are not part of the class.

andrew weaver says

Good morning I was just wanting to know where we are on the process with the lawsuit against western culinary institute.

David Sugerman says

Still in the middle of Career Education Corp.'s delay tactics. Pre-trial appeal. They can continue to delay, but they cannot hide forever.

SSG Ryan A. Nielsen says

I graduated from Western Culinary Institute in June of 2000. I request further information on this matter. I am an Active Duty Soldier, currently serving at an undisclosed location. Please email me and I would be happy to communicate. Thank you so much in advance!


SSG Nielsen, Ryan A.
United States Army
Food Service Instructor/Writer
Food Service Leads The Way
(GOVT Email) ryan.a.nielsen.mil@mail.mil

Super Concerned says

Hi, i currently am enrolled in a CEC school, I believe i have proof of them stealing money from financial aid. In fact I'm sure of it. I did not do my research and made a mistake in going to this school. I am worried that talking to the wrong person about this will screw me and many others out of due justice. What i would like to know, is A) in order to start a class action, does the law firm need to be from the state the claim is being made from. B) from what I'm gathering, CEC schools financial aid now come from themselves. I believe i and a couple other students have proof that they are actually falsifying the numbers, and omitting proof of payments in their documents. I want to talk to someone big enough to make a difference, not some crap local class action lawyer. Is that possible? where do i even go?

David Sugerman says

Thanks for your comment. I can't respond here publicly because you are seeking legal advice. For your protection that needs to be done privately. I suggest you contact me by email or phone our office at 503.228.6474 so that my staff can get more information.

Jameela Schacht says

You gotta read this....(quote from Daily Kos email newsletter)

Writing by Will McLeod: A Better World is PossibleFollowRSS
Daily Kos memberProfileDiaries (list)Stream.Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:00 PM PDT.

'Serious' Question about the Hobby Lobby ruling: Can I stop paying my student loans?by OllieGarkeyFollow .

52 Comments / 52 New.So let's review some facts.

1. The Hobby Lobby decision says essentially that people (Including Corporate People) cannot be legally forced to act in a way that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

2. I am a Christian.

3. In the Christian Religion, and in Holy Scripture, the charging of interest is considered Usury, and is sinful.

4. In the Christian Religion, and in Holy Scripture, all debts are required to be forgiven every few years, in what is called the "Year of Jubilee." I sincerely believe that the year of jubilee should transpire every seven years.

5: Jesus was pretty cool with you, unless you were a banker. If you were, he was going to attack you with a whip. The one time Jesus was totally okay with violence was violence directed at money changers.

Being that I believe all this stuff, with a worrying intensity, am I within my religious rights as an individual to declare my student loans null and void?

Because here's what it seems like to me. I cannot be forced to act in a way inconsistent with my religious beliefs. That doesn't mean that I'm allowed to, say, attack the CEO of Citibank, Michael Corbatt with a whip. Even though it is my sincerely held religious belief that Michael Corbatt and other CEOs of large banks are in need of a good horsewhipping, and that it would be Christ-like to follow in Jesus footsteps and attack moneychangers like Corbatt with a whip, I recognize that the right to a belief doesn't mean the right to exercise that belief. I can believe that bankers need a good flogging all I want, but they'll put me in jail if I try to horsewhip Corbatt (outside of a very specific kind of social gathering.)

Be that as it may, the court found in the Hobby Lobby decision that we can't be forced to act in a way that violates our beliefs.

So I'm thinking of starting a Kickstarter campaign to hire a lawyer and take this case to the supreme court. A class-action lawsuit on behalf of every student whose religion defines interest as usury, and whose religion has the concept of debt forgiveness.

Off the top of my head, that's Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Probably some traditional native American religions as well, as acting on greed is generally considered to be a terrible thing in those religions. Considering Buddhism's beliefs on property, they may be able to jump on with this class action lawsuit as well. And hey, Pastafarians? I'm not sure what his starchiness has to say about student loans, but I'm pretty sure you can jump on this boat too. Because the courts are also pretty clear: My religion doesn't have to be reasonable. I don't even have to prove that this is a reasonable interpretation of my own religion. I just have to believe it. Sincerely.

Which I do.

One hundred and crazy percent.

While I know that making it legal to attack Wall Street bankers with whips is, sadly, never going to be a reality in this godless nation, it may be possible to have my student loans declared null and void. Or completely impossible.

Whatever, I sincerely believe that I want to try.

So whaddya think? Should I throw up a kickstarter to try to make enough money to hire a lawyer?

David Sugerman says

I have to admit that I am amused. The Hobby Lobby decision is going to cause all sorts of chaos, but I would save your kickstarter plan, as there's a glaring hole in the theory. The grand claim of Hobby Lobby was that a corporate soul (ha!) should not be forced to pay for things that violated the corporate owner's religion. There are many reasons why the majority of the US Supreme Court that issued this decision will rue the day that they did so. But student loans is not one of them.

The flaw in your theory is this: You were not forced to take out student loans, and you agreed to the terms in the contract. At least that's the theory of contract law. Once you set aside your firmly-held (newly-discovered?) religious principles and opted to enter into the agreement, you can't go back to them.

That's not license to endure fraud, however, and it does not excuse Career Education Corp's blatant failures to truthfully tell you and others the real truth about the lack of value of the culinary degree and the truth behind how they calculated placement rates and sat on salary information. So yeah, their day will come.

We need not whip them, by the way. Taking their money is far more painful. That is the plan.

Thanks for the laugh.

andrew weaver says

Any new information

David Sugerman says

Andrew (and others following this thread)-The Court of Appeals heard oral argument in May. We are waiting for the Court of Appeals ruling. There are no fixed deadlines for a ruling. We will post when we have a ruling.

andrew weaver says

Ok thank you

nicholas barger-brown says

i was wondering what was going on with the law suit i graduated in 2006 some time and was interested in the lawsuit if been looking for a job for years and ended up in sales and now in package foods i really looked forward to a job making food with my own hands but i only get to do that when i cook for my self at least for years at least please someone contact me

nicholas barger-brown says

email me at nick81vette2000@yahoo.com

David Sugerman says

Please contact our office at 503.228.6474 to discuss.
David Sugerman

Robert Roddick says

What years are involved in the Lawsuit, I finished my classes in 1991. Great school at the time. Found a job in the food service and went on to become a Director of Food Service/Nutrition for a Health System. I would recomend any student to look into the food service for hospitals. Its a growing part of the field and the pay is above average. Lots of advancement and staedy work.

David Sugerman says

I imagine things were different there in 1991. The classes included in the case are those who enrolled and attended between March 5, 2006-March 1, 2010.
Thanks for the suggestion regarding hospital food service. I've heard from a number of people that institutional work may be a good pathway.


attending 2005-2006 says

I see the dates are March 5 06 to March 1 10. I was in attendance may 05 to Jul 06 and my student loans from here are unbearable. How do I get involved and how is the progress in this case?

David Sugerman says

Unfortunately, your dates mean you are not included in the case. This is based on an early ruling by the trial court that defined the class period. The case is going very slowly.

Elisabeth LaRoche says

Hello. I am looking for more information about this case, and the progress of it.
I am a 2006 "graduate" of the Pastry program. I attended from November 2005 - August 2006, and got stuck with about $30-40k in loans. I have since repaid the federal, but the private loans taken out have long since been in default.

David Sugerman says

Hi Elisabeth- Those dates fall outside the class. Based on an early ruling of the court, the class period begins for those who enrolled and attended in early March 2006 up to 2010. (The exact dates are more precise than that, but regardless, your dates are outside the class period.)

Elisabeth LaRoche says

Okay thank you. Good luck.

Ken O. says

Any reasonable reason to be excited about the ruling in California concerning CEC/LCB?
Thanks for your hard work David!

David Sugerman says

Hi Ken-Good question. California actually settled years ago. It's not clear at all why it is getting play again on the internet, but it seems to appear to be a new development. It isn't.

ps: Thanks for your kind words. The case has been going on for over seven(!) years. Not fair to you folks who have waited patiently, and definitely a challenge for the legal team.

Gabie O. says

I am wondering on this ruling. I was a 2008 graduate and had many issues with the internships or as they called them, externships. I had to go back to school to find a job. I am still in a lot of debt from this school. I would love to know more about it. I received a letter a while back and was waiting on the outcome.

David Sugerman says

Hi Gabie-As hard as it is to believe, we are still waiting for a ruling from the Oregon Court of Appeals on whether part of the class must go to arbitration. This has delayed us for over three years. Nothing to do for now but continue to wait. We also post updates on our firm Facebook page. If you use FB, you can like the page so that you see updates on the case there, too.

Thanks for your patience.

Gabie Olive says


I was hoping to hear about the status of this case. I graduated in 2007 from WCI and was hoping to hear more on what is going on? Thank you,

David Sugerman says

Hi Gabie-Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the Oregon Court of Appeals to rule on whether some of the class members must go to arbitration. Until they rule, we can't push forward on the case.

Gabie Olive says

Sorry I didn't think my older post, posted. I appreciate your feed back on this David!


robert garcia says

I was the first class in 1999 when than started calling them selves le corde en bleu . Ild also like to join this lawsuit.

David Sugerman says

The case does not cover people in your era.

Ashley Sickels says

Hi. I was enrolled in 08/2006 and graduated 11/2007. How do I participate in the lawsuit?

David Sugerman says

Please contact our office at 503.228.6474 for more information

Kim Dethlefsen says

This lawsuit obviously does not have anything to do with me, but I was a graduate of 2012 at LCB and I really need advice. I graduated in 2012 and for the last three years barely a year after graduating they have been taking all of my taxes for student loans because apparently I owe $40,000 for a one year long certificate. No one in their right mind, who needed financial aid, would agree to sign up to pay back $40,000 plus interest. I am now 21 years old working my ass off so the state can take all of my taxes and can only get a job making $10 an hour considering all of the experience I have is from working a kitchen job . Sometimes when you go to school you go because you don’t know a damn thing about the subject. In my case I didn’t know 99% of the culinary knowledge I have today before I started. And all of the knowledge I carry from culinary school are, some, food safety terms I could have learned by applying for my food handlers card. What happened has happened but I know for a fact I did not sign up to pay the amount I Owe. There is no way my father would have been OK with me signing a piece of paper stating I will owe somewhere around $40,000 for a certificate.
If other people have graduated with a one-year certificate around 2011/12 please let me know.
Please if I sound like an ahole or I am completely wrong; if that sounds about right, the price you pay for a certificate in culinary arts please let me know.
Thanks, kim!
Bend, or

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