Paul L. Caron

Friday, April 20, 2018

Second Law Prof Whistleblower Suit Against InfiLaw Unsealed

Arizona Summit Logo (2015), Second Law Prof Whistleblower Suit Against InfiLaw Unsealed:

A newly unsealed whistleblower lawsuit filed by two former professors at Arizona Summit Law School alleges that the school and its owner, InfiLaw Corp., violated federal student loan rules in order to collect more than $533 million in government-backed financial aid from 2012 to 2015.

The qui tam suit, which the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed in February and the court unsealed March 26, is the second whistleblower suit brought by faculty from an InfiLaw school to be made public. Another case focusing on InfiLaw’s now defunct Charlotte School of Law makes similar claims to the Arizona suit, and is still pending. Arizona Summit and InfiLaw’s Florida Coastal School of Law are for-profit institutions, as was Charlotte.

“I think we’ll see more cases involving these issues and these defendants,” said attorney Jesse Hoyer of Florida firm James Hoyer, who represented plaintiffs Celia Rumann and Michael O’Connor in the terminated Arizona Summit case. “More and more insiders are starting to realize what’s going on in these schools. I doubt we’re the only two complaints out there.”

Arizona Summit President Donald Lively on Tuesday pointed to the fact that the U.S. government declined to intervene in Rumann and O’Connor’s suit. “We simply would note that the dismissal of these actions speak for themselves,” he said. ...

Rumann and O’Connor, a married couple who were both fired from their tenured professor positions at Arizona Summit in 2013 after they refused to sign appointment papers they said ran afoul of the school’s tenure protections, filed their whistleblower suit in November 2015. (The couple also filed an unsuccessful employment lawsuit against the school and InfiLaw in 2013, eventually losing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in May, 2017 and being ordered to pay nearly $42,000 in attorney fees. That employment suit also claimed that the couple were ousted for raising concerns about what they saw as efforts to boost profits at the expense of students, such as policies making it difficult for students to transfer out.)

The allegations in Rumann and O’Connor’s whistleblower filing will sound familiar to anyone who has read Bernier’s Charlotte complaint. They claim that Arizona Summit admitted students with little chance of graduating and passing the bar, and that the school falsified the bar pass statistics it submitted to the American Bar Association by paying students who it deemed likely to fail the licensing exam to delay taking the test.

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