Sunday, June 10, 2012
National Law Journal: Judge Reject's Cooley's ABA/NALP Defense in Fraud Case, by Karen Sloan:
The ABA and NALP are not "indispensible absent parties" to a proposed fraud class action brought by 12 recent graduates against the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist's June 7 ruling dealt a blow to Cooley's argument that it was "just following orders" by providing the job figures required by NALP, formerly the National Association for Law Placement, and the ABA, said attorney Jesse Strauss, who represents the plaintiffs alongside attorneys David Anziska and Frank Raimond. "So far, we're two for two on that," Strauss said, noting that a New York state trial judge in March rejected a similar argument by New York Law School before dismissing the larger suit. (Strauss said he plans to file an appeal in the New York case by early July).
Lawyers for Cooley and the plaintiffs faced off on June 5 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan during a hearing on the law school's motion to dismiss the case, which was filed in August. Cooley was among the first schools sued in what has become a wave of litigation directed at law schools that plaintiffs claim puffed up their post-graduate employment data in efforts to lure students. ...
In its motion to dismiss, Cooley argued that the plaintiffs' claims are aimed primarily at the ABA and NALP, and that failing to include those organizations as defendants was ground to dismiss the complaint. "Plaintiffs ask for an "industry"-wide rewrite of those standards, but fail to name as defendants the very entities whose standards they want the court to rewrite," Cooley argued in its motion.
Quist disagreed, ruling that the ABA and NALP's reporting requirements "are a floor, not a ceiling," and that Cooley could provide employment information beyond what those organization mandate.