• May 8, 2019

U.S. Air Force Graphic by: T Sgt Josef Cole

Update (May 8, 2019): The pessimism about the class action complaint against Capella University in the post below has not been entirely borne out but we were not far off.

This week, the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint has withstood a motion to dismiss (in part).

The plaintiffs barely survived the motion to dismiss, losing every claim of every plaintiff but for one plaintiff.

A follow-up question, then, will be what this does to the size of the proposed plaintiffs’ class. The one surviving claim, of Plaintiff Maurice Jose Ornelas, was that “a Capella recruiter” told Mr. Ornelas in an email, “[o]ur typical learner will complete their PhD program in 3 years, plus or minus one quarter, by averaging 2 courses per quarter.” (here at p. 9). This was allegedly (and apparently) false.

But, unless this was part of a script, a repeated representation, this one instance presumably cannot support or justify a class action…

Original post (10/5/2018): About eight years ago, Minnesota Litigator noted a securities fraud class action against Capella University and predicted that the lawsuit would fail. It did.

Once again, Capella University finds itself being sued in a class action (not for securities fraud this time, just fraud). Once again, Capella University has brought a motion to dismiss and, again, we predict the University will prevail on its motion to dismiss. The allegations are that:

Capella’s doctoral programs were not designed for completion within the represented timeframe and cost; to the contrary, they were designed to last considerably longer so Capella could maximize the extraction of tuition payments from Plaintiffs and the Class.

We have not read the entire 137-page complaint nor undertaken our own investigation. Maybe Capella University understated the amount of time it would realistically take for students to obtain their degrees, putting profit and marketing above candor at aspiring students’ expense. On the other hand, as Capella’s lawyers point out, with a product as complicated as “an education,” it is extremely difficult for courts to weigh in on the quality of the product.

It is extremely difficult for a court to consider the claims of John Doe, Jane Roe, Pete Coe, and Terry Boe, and, as to each plaintiff, decide who is responsible for the delays or failures in their academic pursuits (much less who is responsible for the delays or failures the many class members whom John, Jane, Pete, and Terry claim to represent).

It might be ironic that Capella University’s current marketing tag-line is “Live and Learn;” it seems that many Capella University dropouts have learned gotten an expensive education at Capella, but not the one they signed up for…

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