Settlement: Le Cordon Bleu/Western Culinary and Career Education Corp.

It only took 10 years. Late yesterday, we agreed to settle our consumer fraud class action against Western Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu-Portland, and Career Education Corp.

Under the settlement, class members will get refunds of 44 percent of the amounts that they paid for tuition, books, and fees. The 44 percent is reduced for class members who owe money directly to the school. (That reduction does NOT apply to student loans; it’s only if you owed money directly to the school.) The settlement must be approved by the court, so it is not a done deal, and we still have far to go.

There are some other features to the settlement. About $1 million in debts owed by students back to the school will be wiped clean. The defendants will pay attorney fees on top of the refund amounts. The Court will decide how much in attorney fees we will receive.

There is one other feature that is kind of a big deal. In the world of student loans, a borrower can defend against a collection action by raising the fraud of the school. Under the settlement, class members can still litigate the fraud of the school as a defense to loans. Also, they can use the information that we gathered over the last 10 years to help defend against collection actions. It is possible that former students could have their loan balances wiped away.

The student loan wipe-away is something that class members will have to undertake on their own–Sallie Mae and Navient were not parties to this case. Class members who want to pursue that option will need to hire their own student-loan defense lawyers. If you’re in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, we can provide a reference.

So if you’ve read this far, you probably want to know how much and when. If all goes well, payment would be sometime this summer. But it could be delayed. As far as how much, it’s simply math. If you paid $40,000 toward an associates degree–many paid more–and you don’t owe money back to the school, your 44 percent refund would pay back $17,600.

To get the money, you will need to file a claim. Claim forms should be going out in March. Once the claim period starts, you will have 90 days to file your claim. If you don’t file it by then, you lose your right to make a claim, and Career Education Corp. gets to keep the money. We don’t want that to happen! So we’ll be working with you to make sure that you get your claim filed.

Also, this settlement doesn’t apply to those who have to go to arbitration. If you’re in the arbitration group, we can continue to help you, but you have to help us help you. We are pursuing refunds for the arbitration group and will do whatever is necessary to achieve a recovery. If you’re a member of the arbitration group and haven’t done so, please sign up through our portal. There are deadlines for filing for arbitration. If you don’t take action, your rights will be lost.

So that’s the story. We’re pleased with our progress and this development. And of course, we will continue forward.


41 thoughts on “Settlement: Le Cordon Bleu/Western Culinary and Career Education Corp.

  1. Thank you for your good work Mr. Sugerman, it has been a battle well fought.
    If a person owes and in arrears, does the payment go to Navient?

  2. Hi Katherine-
    The money goes to you, not Navient. You might want to use it to litigate or possibly negotiate a payoff. Or you might choose to keep it. Your call.

  3. What is the refund of payments made directly to the school? $30k was in student loans and approximately $10k was paid directly to Cordon Bleu, that 10k doesn’t include interest charged. What would be the proposed return on this scenario?

  4. Whether you paid all in cash, all by borrowing, or by a mix of loans and cash doesn’t matter. The refund looks to how much you were charged.

  5. Thank you for all your hard work on this! My Son graduated from Western in 2004, are there any other avenues he can take?
    He still owes $11K but is current on both loans that started out at $39K.

  6. Hi Michael-
    Please contact us at (503) 228.6474, and we can get your updated contact information and confirm that you are covered by the case.

  7. Hi,

    I just saw the KGW report about your work and the Le Cordon Bleu settlement. I was a student to received an AOS in Patisserie and Baking in 2005. I too was disillusioned about my prospects, as promised by Western Culinary, when I graduated. I was hoping to have a new career, away from the administrative office world. I tried unsuccessfully to find good paying employment and when that didn’t work out, I tried to start my own bakery. After nearly 6 months, I decided it was best for me to return to my administrative work. Eventually, I found a decent paying administrative position, and with my husband’s support, I used all of my pay to pay off my Sallie Mae loan. I would be very interested in filing a claim. Many thanks for all of your wonderful work in getting this resolved for many of us who feel like we were had.

  8. Hi Carmen-
    I’m afraid the news report left out something important. The group that is covered by the case are those who enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. I’m afraid the case does not cover those who attended in 2005 and that we can’t help you.

  9. Does this settlement apply to students who enrolled and started before March 2006, but attended and graduated after that date?

  10. Hi Matthew-
    Based on an earlier ruling of the court, if you signed your enrollment agreement before early March 2006, you’re not included.

  11. I haven’t read into the details. Why does the claim only cover those who attended between March 2006 and Mach 2010? My husband attended between 2003-2005. Great work nonetheless.

  12. My son attended the Institute and I believe he has a right to file a claim, based on when he enrolled. He will be watching for future information, buy could you please add my email to your contact list? Danny forwarded this message to me, but I want to stay informed and help make sure that he does not miss any future communications or deadlines.
    Thank you,

  13. I signed an enrollment agreement in March of 2005 and graduated in May of 2006. This particular settlement won’t apply to me. However, you are saying that the information gathered from this could possibly be used by me to fight Navient on the amount I still owe them? The original loan amount of $19k was at a ridiculous (criminal even) interest rate, but I was told that the employment I could obtain would pay it off in no time. That employment never materialized and due to low wages I had to put my payment into forbearance a few times. I have paid them $26k so far (mostly in interest) and still owe $60k at $900 a month!!!!!! I’m barely making the payments and have no forbearance left. If I stop paying, they will come after me and garnish my wages which will instantly make me homeless. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all of your hard work for the people.

  14. Hi Meghann-I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard this story. It’s why we’ve stayed with this fight. There may still be a path forward for you, but its’ a bit complicated. If you can call us at 503.228.6474, I can discuss it with you. We’re a bit crazy with calls, so if you don’t get through, I will call you back.

  15. Hi Duncan-
    We need to confirm that your son is covered by the case. The news missed an important point: It covers people who first enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. Please have your son call us if he thinks he qualifies, and we can confirm and then get his updated information if he is covered.

  16. It’s a bit technical, but it has to do with the filing date of the case and the statute of limitations. The court ruled on this many years ago, and that ruling locked in the dates and qualifications.

  17. I graduated Le Cordon Blue in 2002 under the restaurant management program. My tuition in was paid in full. Is there any recourse for me?

  18. Our case covers only people who first enrolled or attended between March 2006 and March 2010. So no, we can’t help you.

  19. Hi Katherine-
    I am not qualified to give tax advice, and I really don’t have any idea whether amendments to the tax code earlier this year affected the recovery. For purposes of consulting with a tax professional, the best way to think of this is that your individual recovery is a partial refund, and our fees are being paid directly by the defendants.

  20. Great work and thank you! I am drowning in loan debt from a worthless degree and this gives me hope. I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I have to use a lawyer and will it be a long process or what would it entail?

  21. Hello, i attended Western culinary in November 2006 -Graduated May 2008. What documents do you specifically need to file the claim in March? I recently requested Navient to send me documents showing when the loan was taken and to which school. Is that enough? I don’t have enrollement paperwork from 11 years ago just loan docs and my degree.

  22. Hi-If you contact us through our website we should be able to confirm your membership and whether you fall into the class group or arbitration group. If you fall into the class group, it’s unlikely that you will need to do much more than file a claim–we should have your proof and should be able to fill out most of the claim form for you. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.

  23. If you are on our list, a claim form should come to you. You could call our office at 503.228.6474. We can check to make sure you’re on the list and update your address.

  24. Any path of action for those who were enrolled after 2010? I graduated in 2014 and still owe on the majority of my loan.

  25. Hi, I’m trying to call the office but there is no respons is there any other way to get a hold of someone I can speak to? Thank you in advance

  26. We’re closed today because of snow. If you leave a message for Marla at 503.228.6474, we will get back to you.

  27. I have questions if I attended to Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu 2007 to 2010 not successful for future careers you will able help me or only in Oregon?

  28. Sorry, but I’m not licensed in Nevada, and our case covers only the Portland location. I’m afraid we can’t help you.


  29. Hi there, I enrolled and started in August of 2010. What qualifies the cutoff to March of 2010? Would I still be considered?

  30. The court set the end date of March 1, 2010 years ago. That ruling prevents anyone who started after that date from joining the case.

  31. Hello. I was a former student that was interviewed by your office over 10 years ago. Unfortunately it was decided years after that meeting that the class would only cover students that enrolled between 3/06 and 3/10 and I missed that timeframe by a few months. I have read your post above (and have followed it for years) and now I’m incredibly interested in the possible student loan forgiveness information. I feel stuck in this debt, even though I am not in collection status (painfully paying each month for 10 years with another 10 years left to go. No longer working in the food biz). I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I need to hire a lawyer for this and will it be another 10 year process? Thank you for any info and thanks for all your hard work!

  32. Hi Cary-
    Thanks for your note. Best bet is to call our office at 503.228.6474. Depending on where you live, I can probably make a referral and answer some of your questions.

  33. I graduated from the Le Cordon Blue school in Chicago (Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago). I attended 2003 – 2005, have you heard of any class action suits involving this school? It sounds as if C.E.C practiced deception among all of their culinary schools. We were fed the same lies and b.s. here as well! Can someone poi t me in the right direction if you have heard any other class action suits involving them.
    Thank you!

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