No class certification in job stats suit against Thomas Jefferson Law School, judge rules
Posted Oct 23, 2013 1:58 PM CST
By Mark Hansen
A judge has denied a motion for class certification by a group of Thomas Jefferson School of Law graduates who claimed they were tricked into attending the school by misleading post-graduate job statistics.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joel M. Pressman, in an order (PDF) Monday, said the predominance of individual issues over common issues in the case precluded certification.
“Stated differently, even if certified, multiple individual issues will arise making certification unnecessary and even inefficient,” he wrote.
The San Diego school was sued in 2011 by four graduates who alleged they were misled into attending the school by false and inaccurate employment statistics.
The plaintiffs had sought to certify as a class all of the school’s graduates over a seven-year period who currently live in California and who reviewed the school’s job statistics in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” before deciding to enroll there.
But the judge said there was “little in the way of objective criteria” to determine who is a member of the class. “Given the problems with verification of the class and lack of objective criteria, the class proposed appears to be unascertainable,” he wrote.
Pressman also said there was no evidence that all members of the would-be class were exposed to the same stimulus in applying to law school, citing declarations from more than 100 graduates who offered a variety of different reasons for attending the school.
“Given these vastly differing reasons for attending TJSL and the differing weight placed upon the U.S. News & World Report article, there are significant individual issues with respect to reliance and causation,” he wrote.
Law school dean Thomas Guernsey said in a statement he was “extremely pleased” with the ruling, which he said supports the school’s “unwavering position that there was never any basis for a class action lawsuit of this nature” against the school.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Brian Procel could not be reached for comment.