New York, NY – October 5, 2015 – Once again Venable has prevailed for a law school client, in the last remaining Venable case in an ongoing series of class action lawsuits filed by law school students and applicants across the country. These cookie-cutter suits alleged that the law schools published misleading information about postgraduate employment statistics that induced the students to enroll in the graduate schools, often with student loan obligations and limited employment prospects.
In Casey, et al. v. Florida Coastal School of Law, et al., Plaintiffs alleged that actions of the Defendant, Florida Coastal School of Law, "constitute unlawful, unfair, deceptive and fraudulent practices" and that "[a]s part of [Florida Coastal's] fraudulent marketing practices and recruitment program, Florida Coastal engaged in a pattern and practice of knowingly and intentionally making numerous false representations and omissions of material facts, with the intent to deceive and fraudulently induce reliance by Plaintiffs."
Judge Brian J. Davis of the United States District Court Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, disagreed and dismissed the entire case with prejudice, accepting in full the August 15, 2015 Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Patricia D. Barksdale. In a decision supplementing the reasoning of Magistrate Judge Barksdale, Judge Davis concluded that Plaintiffs' allegations failed to state a claim and that the Defendant's alleged conduct failed to rise to the level of deceptive or unfair trade practices, stating that a claim of deceptive trade practice "requires proof that defendant's act would likely mislead the [objective] consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances."'
The Court also noted that Plaintiffs "are consumers of a legal education. As such, they are college graduates and [b]y anyone's definition ... a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives."
"We are pleased, but not surprised, that the court dismissed the case, with prejudice. Florida Coastal School of Law has rigorous internal control processes to ensure that the school maintains the highest standards of accuracy regarding reporting of student and graduate outcome data," said Dennis Stone, President, Florida Coastal School of Law. "Additionally, an independent auditing firm reviewed Florida Coastal School of Law's career placement processes and disclosures and found them to be consistent with applicable national standards and best practices."
Michael Volpe, Ed O'Toole, and Michael Hartmere of the firm's New York office led the Venable team. In a similar case in 2012, the Venable team obtained dismissal of all claims brought by a putative class of New York Law School students and alumni in the Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School case. In that case, the plaintiffs claimed that, in making their decision to attend New York Law School, they relied on misleading information disseminated by the school concerning its graduates' employment and salaries.
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