Cooley Law School Sues Law Firm and Bloggers Over Alleged Misrepresentations on Grad Placement

Thomas M. Cooley Law School has gone to court with an interesting defamation case against the New York firm, Kurzon Strauss, and anonymous bloggers after it was accused of misrepresenting the success of its graduates. The firm had posted a draft class action against the law school. The litigation raises a host of issues of privilege and free speech.

The law school says the draft complaint falsely accuses the school of fabricating data on job placement and student loan default rates.

Judicial filings and in-court statements are privileged under common law. However, this was not filed and was posted as a draft. As such, it would not be entitled to the privilege.

There remains free speech issues, of course. The law school should be treated as a public figure subject to New York Times v. Sullivan, but even under the higher standard the firm and bloggers can be held liable for knowingly falsehoods or reckless disregard of the truth.

Notably, the complaint focuses on establishing “fault amounting to at least negligence” — raising the question of whether they will fight the application of New York Times v. Sullivan. As noted in New York, if the corporation is a “public figure,” the defendant will have a qualified privilege and the defendant must establish actual malice. See Friends of Animals v Assoc. Fur Manufacturers, 46 NY2d 1065, 390 N.E.2d 298 (1979).

David Anziska, counsel to the Kurzon firm and a defendant in the Cooley case, is not backing off. In fact, he is planning a counter-attack: “This is one of the most ridiculous, absurd lawsuits in recent memory. Suffice it to say, not only will we defend ourselves vigorously but we fully intend to countersue both Thomas Cooley and their lawyers at Miller Canfield for abusing the legal process with this blatantly idiotic lawsuit.”

The bloggers include such people as Rockstar05 who denounced the “scam” at the law school (See paragraph 14) The school is obviously going to seek to strip the blogger of anonymity — a trend in civil litigation.

In addition to the defamation claims in Count One, Count Two allegely tortious interference with Business Relations. A second complaint was filed against some of the defendants that is virtually identical.

Part of the risk of this litigation is that the law school risks full discovery on its past reporting and disclosures as well as its placement rates. All schools tend to gild the lily a bit. It could be quite messy in discovery.

Source: ABA Journal

5 thoughts on “Cooley Law School Sues Law Firm and Bloggers Over Alleged Misrepresentations on Grad Placement

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  2. How about more stupidity:

    Schneider: U.S. citizen seeking driver’s license caught in ‘limbo’

    “It is now easier for a foreigner to get a license than a U.S. citizen,” he wrote. “Maybe I should try to get married, change my name, or do some time in prison. … Or perhaps I should go back overseas and request a U.S. entry visa so I can get a driver’s license in my own country.”

    “I was turned away from my local Secretary of State office because my U.S. passport is not accepted as valid identification to obtain a driver’s license. They accept Canadian drivers’ licenses and Department of Corrections ID cards – even tribal ID cards are accepted. Yet, NOT a U.S. passport?”

    After perusing the list of IDs acceptable to the Secretary of State, Mindiola realized he had a problem. He figured he might to able to scrounge up a birth certificate in Caracas, but couldn’t understand why that would carry more weight than a U.S. passport. He wrote:

    “Foreigners can show their U.S. entry visas and get a Michigan driver’s license without a problem, but since I entered the U.S. as a citizen with my U.S. passport, I (can’t) … ”

    In fact, Mindiola has a Michigan driver’s license from some years back. But because it’s expired, it doesn’t count.

    http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20110715/COLUMNISTS09/107150313/Schneider-U-S-citizen-seeking-driver-s-license-caught-limbo-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    Say what?

  3. Oh, I see now….the law firm….started it by posting online….the “Bogus/Draft Complaint” then Cooley filed its suit…..this makes sense…..

    The Kurzon Strauss firm and two of its lawyers posted online comments, including requests for information and a draft purported class action complaint, in which they falsely contended that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School incorrectly reported its graduates’ job placement and student loan default rates, the law school says in a complaint (PDF) it filed today in state court.

    Out of the article

  4. Kurzon Strauss is an interesting firm. Four lawyers handling class action suits. One case is purportedly against the Huffington Post as stated on their website. Seems like an awfully small firm to handle class action. In any event, filing a dummy complaint on-line is a bit strange. Maybe it was a solicitation for business.

  5. A “Draft Complaint” in Michigan is somewhat protected as Attorney Work Product…..and has no legality or enforcement….although the Judiciary at present is immune from the FOIA….

    Howell Education Association v. Howell Board of Education

    Teacher/Professors are presently immune from release:

    the Court of Appeals sided with the union citing privacy issues and the lack of a specific mention of emails within the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. The court stated in its opinion, “This is a difficult question requiring that we apply a statute, whose purpose is to render government transparent, to a technology that did not exist in reality (or even in many people’s imaginations) at the time the statute was enacted and which has the capacity to make ‘transparent’ far more than the drafters of the statute could have dreamed.” The court went on to suggest the legislature consider the problem and amend the act.[1]

    I would suspect that discovery is going to be problematic…

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