Ex-Students Claim Law School Hid Accreditation Woes

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(CN) – A pair of federal class actions filed in North Carolina claim the Charlotte School of Law made false and misleading statements about its accreditation with the American Bar Association.

The lawsuits come just over a month after the bar association placed the law school on probation for what it described as the school’s non-compliance with accreditation standards.

They were filed December 22 in the federal courts for the Western and Middle Districts of North Carolina just days after the U.S. Education Department announced the school would no longer qualify to receive federal student aid money starting Jan. 1, 2017.

In their lawsuits, the six lead plaintiffs — four in one suit; two in the other — claim the failure the law school and its parent companies, defendants InfiLaw Holding LLC and InfiLaw Inc., to tell them of its accreditation issues before they paid tuition was a breach of contract and unfair trade practice that harmed them both financially and scholastically.

The lead plaintiffs are also suing the Education Department, asking that it be ordered to discharge all debts they acquired to attend the Charlotte School of Law.

The law school was accredited by the American Bar Association in 2011, and was found to be non-complaint with certain of its standards as early as 2015.

The bar association said it told the school of these issues at the time, and informed it of other compliance issues in February, June and November of this year.

The plaintiffs claim that despite being put on notice multiple times, the law school continued to claim it adhered to the ABA’s accreditation standards in its marketing materials and on its website.

In addition to the declaratory relief sought in regard to the Education Department, the plaintiffs also seek compensatory and punitive damages. Plaintiffs Robert Barchiesi and Lejla Hadzic, who filed their lawsuit in the Western District of North Carolina, are represented by H. Forest Horne of Martin & Jones PLLC in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Gary Shipman of Shipman & Wright, LLP, in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Plaintiffs Spencer Krebs, Morgan Switzer, Dave Wyatt and Chester Roberts, who filed their lawsuit in the Middle District of North Carolina are represented by Noah Abrams, of Abrams & Abrams PA, in Raleigh, and Timothy Bailey, of Bailey, Javins & Carter LC in Charleston, West Virginia.