A judge from San Diego decided against dismissing the fraud lawsuit filed against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, according to The National Law Journal. Five similar lawsuits against other law schools have been thrown out of court since March. The lawsuits claim that students were misled by the school’s data about graduates obtaining jobs.
The judge presiding over the case, Joel Pressman, ruled on November 29 that the plaintiffs were allowed to move forward with the lawsuit. This ruling came after Thomas Jefferson attorneys and the plaintiffs took part in a hearing on November 16 regarding the law school’s motion for summary judgment.
A statement released by the law school, located in San Diego, said the following:
“Importantly, Judge Pressman’s ruling is not a factual determination that the plaintiff’s allegations have any merit,” the school said. “Rather, his ruling simply allows the plaintiffs to proceed with discovery even though the court acknowledges that the original plaintiff was offered a full time position as an attorney within nine months of graduation.”
Prior to the hearing, the law school filed documents with the court that said one of the plaintiffs, Anna Alaburda, turned down a $60,000 job with a law firm from Southern California following her graduation from the school in 2008. Alaburda has claimed that she has had difficulty finding full-time work in the legal industry since she graduated.
Alaburda’s attorney provided a sworn statement from an ex-employee of the career services office from the school. The statement said that the employee was pressured by her boss to display the 2006 employment data for the school in the best possible way.
The attorneys for the law school argued that the claims made by Alaburda cannot be used in court because of the statute of limitations. The school also argued that she was not hurt by the actions of the school, that she failed to mitigate her damages and that she does not fall under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act of the state as a consumer.
Judge Pressman said in his ruling that there is “insufficient evidence that plaintiff Alaburda knew facts or should have known facts supporting the alleged misrepresentation regarding employment data” prior to an article that was published in the New York Times about law schools allegedly publishing misleading employment data of graduates.
“In this case, Alaburda was not specifically bargaining for a job,” Pressman wrote in the ruling. “She bargained for a legal education. Representations regarding that legal education are material to the decision of whether to enroll.”