An Illinois appellate panel has rejected an objector’s challenge to a $44.95 million settlement that ends class action litigation over DeVry University’s advertised graduate success and pay rates, Law360 reports.
In a 22-page order, the three-judge panel relayed that the objector’s argument against the deal and the amount awarded in attorney fees “falls far short of meeting his burden to show that the trial court’s ruling was an abuse of discretion.”
“He may have preferred greater financial compensation and is arguing that attorney fees should be based strictly on financial payments,” the panel wrote. “However, he cites no authority for that proposition and, in our opinion, it would be unjust for plaintiffs’ counsel to have worked for and obtained ‘extraordinarily’ positive results for the entire class, despite ‘thin’ grounds for negotiating with DeVry, yet be compensated for only a portion of the settlement.”
The proposed class action detailed on this page was initially settled on June 4, 2020. Although the settlement received final approval following a October 7, 2020 hearing, two objectors subsequently filed appeals, holding up payments to eligible DeVry students.
According to the official settlement website, the deadline by which to file a claim was September 7, 2020. Now that the Illinois appellate panel has upheld the settlement, class members who submitted valid claims should keep an eye out for their compensation.
The answers to frequently asked questions about the DeVry University class action settlement can be found here.
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DeVry University is on the receiving end of a proposed class action filed by former students who claim they were misled about the school’s post-graduation employment rates and graduate incomes.
Filed against Adtalem Global Education, Inc. (formerly DeVry Education Group, Inc.) and DeVry University, Inc., the 41-page lawsuit out of California alleges that the for-profit university manipulates data in order to present higher, better-looking statistics to prospective students. Specifically, the lawsuit argues that DeVry falsely claimed that 90 percent of its graduates actively seeking employment land a job in their field within six months of graduation and that their salaries are typically 15 percent higher than those of graduates of similar four-year programs. The plaintiffs and proposed class members relied on these alleged misrepresentations when deciding to enroll in the school and paid more in tuition than they otherwise would have paid, the case says.
With regard to DeVry’s 90-percent job placement claim, the case says the institution improperly excluded some graduates from the count and included others.
“For example, Defendants count graduates who did not obtain a job as a result of obtaining a degree from DeVry, and include DeVry graduates who after graduation continued with the same job they had when they enrolled at DeVry,” the complaint reads. More from the lawsuit:
“Defendants also unreasonably count jobs that employers, industry experts, graduates, and consumers would not reasonably consider to be in the graduate’s field of study, and exclude students as ‘inactive’ who were in fact seeking jobs (i.e., reviewing jobs in the DeVry database, attending job interviews, attending DeVry career fairs, actively applying for positions, and actively following up with prospective employers).”
The lawsuit claims the defendants similarly skewed their numbers when calculating post-graduate incomes. According to the case, the defendants improperly reported that DeVry graduates generally earn more than graduates of similar college programs.
Prospective students relied on these representations, the case says, and paid the school more money in tuition than they otherwise would have. The lawsuit alleges that in reality, DeVry’s graduate employment statistics are “abysmal” and have been pegged at between 20 percent and 50 percent from 2008 to 2014.
According to the case, the defendants’ scheme was uncovered when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called their statistics into question and initiated legal action against DeVry in 2016 over its apparent misrepresentations. The school ended up settling with the FTC for $100 million and was forced to refund former students.