Federal Judge Certifies Class of Former Law Students Suing BAR/BRI and Kaplan, and Installs Special Master
McGuireWoods LLP partner Eliot Disner, the plaintiffs' lead counsel in a case against the largest provider of bar review courses, announced that a U.S. district court granted class certification on behalf of approximately 300,000 law students. The hearing for Ryan Rodriguez v. West Publishing Corp., No. 05 CV 3222 (C.D. Calif.) was held yesterday, and the order was entered today by the Honorable Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The eligible students took West's BAR/BRI course to help them prepare for the bar exams given in every state and the District of Columbia between 1997 and 2006. BAR/BRI estimates that 85- 95 percent of all law students sitting for the bar have taken its course.
"After reviewing massive filings and hearing arguments from both sides, the judge granted certification and held 'this case will now proceed as a class,'" Disner said. "If we prove BAR/BRI and Kaplan, Inc. violated the antitrust laws, several hundred thousand young lawyers who paid too much for their bar prep courses will get some of their money back," Disner added.
Among other things, the lawsuit accuses BAR/BRI of an illegal market division agreement with its largest potential competitor, Kaplan. It agreed with BAR/BRI to stay out of the bar review course market, on the condition that hundreds of thousands of dollars per year be paid to it, and that BAR/BRI also stay out of Kaplan's LSAT prep course market. Disner said the claimed conspiracy appears to have resulted in class members being overcharged as much as $1,000 each.
The court also ordered that a Special Master be appointed at plaintiff's urging, prompted by the chronic failure of the defendants to provide discovery reasonably requested. The master will expedite future proceedings in this matter in preparation for the September 12, 2006, trial date.
Information Provided By: [McGuireWoods]