Cooley Law School lost its appeal in a defamation lawsuit filed against a law firm that published criticism of the school and how it reports student debt, according to mlive.com.
The lawsuit was filed against Kurzon Strauss LLC, a firm from New York, and two attorneys that are associated with the firm. The lawsuit was filed for $17 million and it named David Anziska and Jesse Strauss as defendants. The lawyers were accused of posting defamatory statements on “JD Underground,” a popular law school forum.
The post from the lawyers on the forum said that Cooley Law School was being investigated by federal regulators due to student loan default rates and employment of its graduates.
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The statements from the lawyers on the website were retracted at a later date, but the law firm started to prepare a class-action lawsuit against the law school. When this occurred, Cooley filed a lawsuit against the firm accusing it of defamation, interference with business relations and breach of contract.
Kurzon Strauss was granted judgment by a trial court before the case even reached a trial. The court said that Cooley is a ‘public figure’ and needs to prove that the law firm acted with disregard for the truth. The court said that Cooley could not reach this level.
The same decision was affirmed by the appeals court, saying that statements were made by the lawyers during a discussion about “public controversy” that surrounds law school employment numbers and student debt.
Cooley told the American Bar Association that more than 28 percent of its class from 2013 was unable to find work nine months following graduation. This rate is twice the next-highest rate of other law schools in the state. Cooley announced this week that it will not enroll first-year students in its Ann Arbor location and would lay off faculty and staff members.