Law Schools

Cooley Law School loses 6th Circuit defamation appeal


Dueling defamation suits by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and a law firm that unsuccessfully sued over the school’s employment statistics have both been tossed out of court.

Cooley filed the first defamation suit against lawyers David Anziska and Jesse Strauss and their then-law firm, Kurzon Strauss. The suit claimed $17 million in damages as a result of a June 2011 blog post claiming the school “grossly inflates” employment data and salary information, as well as a draft class action, published on the Internet, claiming the school used “Enron-style” accounting techniques.

On Wednesday, the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld (PDF) dismissal of Cooley’s suit. The 6th Circuit agreed with a trial judge who concluded the school was a limited-purpose public figure and evidence of actual malice was lacking.

When announcing the defamation suit, Cooley president and dean Don LeDuc alleged that the lawyers “crossed the line both legally and ethically.” That statement spurred a defamation suit by the Kurzon law firm, which was recently dismissed by a federal judge in New York on jurisdictional grounds.

Cooley’s 6th Circuit loss comes on the same day that news broke of its decision not to enroll a first-year class at its Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus. The school said it plans to “right size and reinvent the school” as a result of declining enrollment and revenues.

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