Paula Lorona, a former assistant director of financial aid at Arizona Summit Law School, claims that starting in May 2014, all three of InfiLaw’s schools — Arizona Summit, Charlotte, and Florida Coastal — began offering $5,000 payoffs to students who were unlikely to pass the bar exam.I guess it's a cost of doing business when you are enrolling tons of 140 LSATs and trying to stay accredited?
Above the Law has graciously posted a copy of the complaint that makes for some interesting reading to learn about the facts as alleged. For example, Ms. Lorona was enrolled as an evening student in 2009 and became an administrative assistant for the school a few months later. She received rather rapid promotions and was student accounts/accounting manager by 2011 (See para. 12, 16). Pages 4-6 make allegations regarding alterations on an Arizona Summit state tax filing; by pointing out such things, Lorona allegedly became the recipient of harassment.
The really good stuff begins around page 8. Lorona allegedly told Dean Shirley Mays that she they were misrepresenting the success rates of students admitted through the alternative admissions program. Beginning with paragraph 80, they set forth facts regarding the "failure predictor formula," which calculated whether a student was likely to fail the bar and if so, they would be offered $5000.
Lorona, as a 2014 alumna, allegedly received emails from the school regarding low anticipated pass rates and had a school-employed bar coach tell her the school was concerned about losing federal funding, while the school was still boasting high pass rates to the consuming public; the effect being that the school knew it was misleading students (see para. 90-100).
More intriguing, at least to me, is that in Count III the complaint sets forth a consumer fraud claim from an actual insider whose testimony can apparently establish admissions that show intent to deceive. Lorona may face the same reliance problems that have plagued the class action cases in other jurisdictions, but as an employee of the school, she surely knows more than a run-of-the-mill student, and she's only suing on her own behalf rather than a class; thus, it should be her reliance that would matter, and not that of a vague made-up student with a time machine and unlimited access to things no one knows.
The complaint indicates that Lorona allegedly turned down a confidential waiver when she left employment. Here's to hoping she and her attorneys continue that line of thought as the matter progresses.