Illinois Judge Tosses Consumer Fraud Suit against DePaul Law

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Written By admin at Thursday, September 13th, 2012


An Illinois judge threw out a lawsuit filed by graduates of DePaul University College of Law who accused their alma mater of baiting them with misleading job statistics.

The lawsuit was one of more than a dozen filed in recent months, as fresh law school graduates struggle to find jobs in a brutal market, and the third to fall flat. Judges in Michigan and New York have spiked similar lawsuits.

The rest are pending before trial judges around the country; lawsuits against Golden Gate University School of Law and University of San Francisco School of Law have cleared initial legal hurdles and could see trial. The schools deny they misled students.

In the lawsuit against Chicago-based DePaul, nine alumni who enrolled between 2003 and 2008 alleged that the school advertised misleading information about how many of its graduates landed jobs. The alumni, saddled with debt and unable to find jobs in the legal market, said the sin was one of omission: the school’s figures, which, depending on the year, showed that between 88% and 98% of DePaul graduates were employed after graduating, failed to spell out whether those jobs were full-time or required a law degree.

According to data released by the American Bar Association over the summer, about 40% of DePaul’s 2011 graduates had full-time, long-term jobs that required a law degree nine months after commencement. Annual tuition at the school is more than $ 40,000.

The DePaul lawsuit, which alleged common law fraud and consumer fraud, sought tuition reimbursements and unspecified damages from the school.

Cook Country Circuit Judge Neil Cohen, in a 11-page order filed Wednesday, said the graduates alleged no facts to support the proposition that “they can reasonably assume that all the employment obtained by DePaul graduates was full-time and in the legal profession when no such representations were made” by the law school.

He went on,

DePaul cannot be blamed for the fact that eight of the nine plaintiffs graduated at a time which was witness to a metamorphosis in the practice of law due to a number of factors not the least of which was the height of a tumultuous and deep recession that seriously affected employment in the legal profession.

The judge said DePaul was immune to consumer fraud claims because it’s an ABA-accredited school that is required under federal law to provide employment information to prospective students.

Edward Clinton Jr., a lawyer for the graduates, said he intended to press the case. ”This case has big public policy issues,” he said. “It should be appealed and it will be.”

A message left with DePaul wasn’t immediately returned.

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