(Bloomberg News) New York Law School won dismissal of a lawsuit filed by former students who accused the school of inflating statistics on graduates' jobs and pay.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Melvin L. Schweitzer Jr. dismissed the suit in a ruling today, saying that the school's marketing materials weren't misleading and that the students had "ample information" from other sources about job prospects.
The former students sued the 1,500-student school in August, accusing it of knowingly inflating employment and salary statistics to recruit and retain students. A similar complaint was filed against Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, the same day.
Schweitzer also said the plaintiffs' demand of damages that would equal the difference between what they paid for law school and how much their degree is worth is not a remedy under the law since the "great recession" of 2008 and its aftermath have "wreaked havoc" on the legal job market.
"As law graduates who made their decisions to go to law school before the full effects of the maelstrom hit, they now have turned their disappointment and angst on their law school for not adequately anticipating the possibility of the supervening storm and presenting the most complete job-related data that could possibly have been compiled," Schweitzer wrote.
The former students plan to appeal, said David Anziska, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. The judge's two main points, that consumers shouldn't have relied on the school's employment reports and that damages are too speculative, are "fundamentally questions of fact, not law," he said in an e- mail.
"This is one setback in a long-term process, and we always expected for many of these issues to ultimately be resolved on an appellate level," Anziska said.
New York Law School, founded in 1891, is one of the oldest independent law schools in the U.S. with about 1,500 students, according to its website. Michael Volpe, an attorney who represented the school in the case, said he is "confident and comfortable" the decision will be upheld on appeal.
"The true measure of whether someone will be successful after attending law school is a number of years after someone graduates," Volpe said in a telephone interview. "We think the judge looked at the legal issues presented, the factual issues presented, i.e., one of the toughest economies we've had in the last 75 or 80 years, and considered it all in that context and found there were no merits to these claims."
The case is Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, 652226/2011, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).