A Michigan federal judge on July 20 dismissed a class complaint accusing Thomas M. Cooley Law School of misrepresenting its graduates' employment statistics to entice new students to enroll and then saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt (John T. MacDonald Jr., et al. v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, et al., No. 11-831, W.D. Mich.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100785). "Because, in this Court's judgment, the MCPA [Michigan's Consumer Protection Act] does not apply to the purchase of a legal education to attain employment, Count I does not state a claim for which relief can be granted. Counts 2 and 3 [fraud and negligent misrepresentation] are dismissed because one representation is literally true and because Plaintiffs unreasonably relied upon the representations that comprise Plaintiffs' misrepresentation claims. Therefore, Cooley's motion will be granted and Plaintiffs' amended complaint will be dismissed," U.S. Judge Gordon J. Quist of the Western District of Michigan held. Securing EmploymentJohn MacDonald and three other graduates of the law school filed a complaint on Aug. 10, alleging "that attending Thomas Cooley and forking over nearly $ 100,000 in tuition payments is a terrible investment which makes little economic sense and, most likely, will never pay off."MacDonald alleged that Thomas M. Cooley School of Law is the largest law school in the country with approximately 4,000 students at four different campuses. He claimed that during the class period, the school claimed that between 75 and 80 percent of its graduates secured employment within nine months of graduation. "However, the reality of the situation is that these seemingly robust numbers include any type of employment, including jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with the legal industry, do not require a JD degree or are temporary or part-time in nature. Rather, if Thomas Cooley was to disclose the more pertinent employment statistic - i.e. those graduates who have secured full-time, permanent positions for which a JD degree is required or preferred - the numbers would drop dramatically, and could be well below 30 percent, if not even lower," MacDonald alleged.MacDonald also claimed that the law school inflates its graduates' reported mean salaries by basing it on a small, mostly self-selected subset of graduates who actually submit their salary information.In November, Cooley moved to dismiss. CounselJesse Strauss of Strauss in New York and Steven M. Hyder of Hyder Law Firm in Monroe, Mich., represent the plaintiffs.Brad H. Sysol of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone in Kalamazoo, Cherie L. Beck and James B. Thelen of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., and Michael P. Coakley and Paul D. Hudson of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone in Detroit represent the law school.
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