The New York Supreme Court has rejected the first of more than a dozen lawsuits brought by recent law school graduates, alleging their school had lured them to enroll under fraudulent pretenses.
Our fraud litigation attorneys were disappointed with
the ruling, as it likely means the remaining 14 cases will not move forward.
The case, Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School had alleged that school had misrepresented and/or lied about how successful alumni were in finding employment after the completion of their education. Plaintiffs had been seeking a collective $225 million.
Among the claims made by the school at the time students enrolled was that between 90 and 92 percent of graduates from the school had secured employment within nine months. What the school allegedly failed to mention was how many of those positions were temporary or part-time or how many of them had nothing to do with a law degree. Lumped in with that 92 percent were graduates who were working as coffee shop baristas and in retail sales – jobs that don’t require a law degree and won’t even begin to help make a dent in those astronomical law school loans.
If this case sound familiar, that’s probably because you may have heard it before. A New York County judge had dismissed the action back in the spring of last year, saying that the career woes of the plaintiffs could be pinned more on the economic downturn than on the claims made by the school.
The case was appealed. However, the appellate court found that while the law school had been “less than candid” about the career paths of its recent graduates, the dismissal was still appropriate.
The plaintiffs had hoped the state’s high court would agree to review the matter, but now that does not appear likely. A similar lawsuit involving Albany Law School was dismissed by a trial court as well, though that case is pending appeal. Decisions are also pending in cases against the law school at Hofstra University and the Brooklyn Law School.
Representative lawyers had said that while they were disappointed with the court’s decision, one of the latent goals of the entire process was realized: law schools on the whole are becoming more transparent in how they operate and in what they promise.
Part of that has been the American Bar Association’s response to this type of litigation, which has been to require schools to submit more in-depth information regarding alumni employment for publication of its annual law school rankings, which is compiled each year in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report.
The attention that all this has garnered also prompted a number of U.S. senators to speak out critically against deceptive law school practices.
Although courts in New York State have generally not favored students in these matters, they had a moderate level of success elsewhere. In New Jersey, for example, a federal judge declined just last month to dismiss a similar case, saying that it was plausible that the claims of the alumni had merit.