This is an update on our culinary school consumer fraud class action against Western Culinary Institute, now known as Le Cordon Bleu Portland, and its parent corporation, Career Education Corporation.
A few weeks ago, defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration of Nathan Surrett and Jennifer Adams’ claims and to stay or dismiss the case.
Some background: Nate is the current class representative. The case is being pursued in his name and through his efforts. Before Nate, Jennifer Adams served as the class representative. She had to step down after the Court narrowed the scope of the class in a way that excluded Jennifer. (If that’s not confusing enough, Adams is Jennifer’s married name. She was previously Jennifer Schuster, which is why that name appears on some of the pleadings.)
Anyhow, back in April, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a really significant anti-consumer decision in the case of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. The case is bad for consumers because it strengthens big businesses’ ability to take away consumers’ rights to trial by jury through mandatory arbitration.
So four months after that decision, the lawyers for WCI/Le Cordon Bleu Portland/CEC decided to ask the trial court to dismiss our case because Nate and Jennifer were required to arbitrate their claims. Their motion is long and legally complex. It was filed under seal because it uses student records of the two named plaintiffs. That’s a long way of saying I can’t provide a copy.
While their arguments were complicated, there were a number of glaring problems. We filed our response on Friday. Here is a pdf copy: Response to Def Motion to Compel Arb and Dismiss
Fair warning: it’s a technical brief that may not make much sense if you don’t have a law degree and an interest in this very narrow area. The issues are important for this case and for other consumer cases. I’m posting it here for those following this case and, also, for consumer attorneys out there facing post-AT&T Mobility motions to compel arbitration.
I’m pleased with our opposition. Oral argument is scheduled for Friday, September 23 in front of Judge Baldwin. I don’t know whether Judge Baldwin will rule from the bench. We will update you when we know more.