As we expected, the class action suit that alleged misrepresentation of published employment statistics by Brooklyn Law School (BLS) was dismissed yesterday. New York Supreme Court Justice David Schmidt’s decision made emphatically clear that the plaintiffs had no cause of action, holding that BLS statistics were not false, misleading, or deceptive; that the economic downturn is a superseding cause that would make any damage award speculative, at best; and that it was unreasonable for plaintiffs to rely solely on a school’s self-published placement statistics when considering law school, given other available resources. The ruling follows similar suits filed against other law schools, all of which have been rejected by New York courts.
“Brooklyn Law School is pleased, but not surprised, that Justice Schmidt dismissed this meritless complaint,” said Russell Jackson, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and the lead attorney for Brooklyn Law School. “BLS has made transparency and accuracy its priorities. In fact, the court noted that plaintiffs refuted their own claims of being misled, given the detailed BLS information they included concerning income and employment. Justice Schmidt made resoundingly clear that the plaintiffs' allegations held no weight.”
“Regardless of the obvious weaknesses of the plaintiffs’ case, there is no disputing that recent graduates need help in today’s lingering weak economy,” said Brooklyn Law School Dean Nick Allard. “Our focus is to help our students begin long, worthwhile careers. We continue to commit significant resources to our jobs program, to take an individualized approach to each student’s comprehensive career development, and to creatively identify opportunities in new fields where qualified lawyers can make a difference, such as compliance, health, privacy, new technology, and financial regulation.
“Preliminary statistics for the class of 2013 show gradual but measurable improvement since 2011. Since I became Dean last summer, improving our students’ job prospects has been my top priority. Personally, I am optimistic that we’ve turned a corner.”
Key points in the court’s decision:
• The court held that Brooklyn Law School's statements were not false, misleading, or deceptive;
• The court embraced the notion that “basic deductive reasoning” would tell a reasonable college graduate that an employment statistic includes all positions, not just full-time legal positions;
• The court concluded that “plaintiffs' decision to enroll and remain in school, predicated solely, as they allege, on the strength of a bare-bones employment statistic, was unreasonable under the circumstances;”
• BLS’s published salary data contradicted the plaintiffs’ allegation of deceptive or misleading conduct;
• The court also held, because BLS identified the percentage responding and alerted the reader to the fact that the salary figures vary from year to year, that “the limitations of the salary data were clearly disclosed.”
Read the court's opinion.