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Response to John Marshall Law School Motion to Dismiss

Response to John Marshall Law School Motion to Dismiss

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Published by Ed Clinton
John Marshall's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint.
John Marshall's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint.

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Published by: Ed Clinton on Aug 29, 2012
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08/29/2012

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOISCOUNTY DEPARTMENT, CHANCERY DIVISIONJORIE JOHNSON, et al., on behalf of themselves )and all others similarly situated, ))Plaintiffs, ))v. ) Case No. 12-CH-03494) Judge MikvaTHE JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL, et al., ))Defendant. )PLAINTIFFS’ RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S COMBINED MOTIONTO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT
Plaintiffs Jorie Johnson, et al., by and through their attorneys, The Clinton Law Firm, respond to DefendantThe John Marshall Law School’s Combined Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Class Action Complaint
1
 (“MTD”) and Memorandum of Law in Support (“Def.Mem”). Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court deny JohnMarshall Law School’s Motion.
INTRODUCTION
 Although the Defendant is unusually prominent, this case is really no more than a classic, garden-varietyconsumer fraud case in which a business misrepresented itself in order to increase sales. Here, a law schoolmisrepresented its graduates’ employment statistics in order to induce prospective students to enroll. As a result,Plaintiffs paid tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees to that law school (The John Marshall Law School(“JMLS”)), frequently taking on a substantial amount of debt, and now have learned that the odds of their obtaininglegal positions adequate to justify their investment were much less than what had been represented to them whenthey were choosing to enroll at that particular law school.The Plaintiffs are asking for narrowly tailored compensatory relief that is directly based upon Defendant’sown false and misleading employment numbers. Plaintiffs are also requesting that Defendant be enjoined fromreporting false, misleading or incomplete employment data and ordered to provide full and honest disclosures to thepublic.
1
A copy of the Amended Complaint is attached as Exhibit A.
 
2
In contrast to Plaintiffs’ narrowly tailored relief, JMLS asks this Court for the extraordinary relief of a findingthat students do not have standing to even bring a claim against their law school and that a law school, unlike other service providers, can never be liable for making misrepresentations, even when the information is in its sole control.JMLS asks this Court to find that it has no responsibility or duty to ensure that its disclosures are accurate andcomplete; that even if they are false or misleading no student is ever justified in relying on them; that as a matter of law no student can ever be damaged by such misrepresentations; and that, therefore, there is no remedy or deterrentfor such conduct by a law school.
2
 Such a finding, immunizing law schools from a liability for injurious conduct that everyone else is subject to,would severely stretch customary and equitable legal principles. As stated in
Giammanco v. Giammanco
, 253Ill.App.3d 750, 763 (1993);
app.den
. 156 Ill.2d 552:[W]e are mindful of the fact that damages in fraud cases serve an admonitory function (seeRestatement (Second) of Torts [Sec.] 549, Comment I, at 115 (1977)) which would be severelyundermined if the harm which we have identified were held to be noncompensable as a matter of law. Such a holding would put those who conduct themselves honestly in such business dealingsat a distinct disadvantage.
THE COMPLAINT
Preliminarily, while there are “similar” law school cases pending around the country:(1) the Complaint in
this
case is not a “cookie-cutter” copy of the other complaints, as Defendant alleges;(2) the Plaintiffs
in this case
have made different allegations than those in other cases, and have not madeadmissions or concessions made in those cases;(3) the Employment Information published by
this
defendant, JMLS, is not the same as the informationpublished by each of the other law schools; and(4) the laws of the various states are different, and
this
Complaint is based solely on
Illinois
statutes andcase law.Thus, the fact that Motions to Dismiss have been granted in two cases,
Gomez-Jiminez v. New York Law School,
943 N.Y.S.2d 834
Sup.Ct,, No. 652226/2011, March 21, 2012) in New York (hereinafter “
Gomez 
”),
MacDonald v.Thomas M. Cooley Law School,
U.S.D.C. SD MI,
 
Case No. 1:11-CV-831 (July 20, 2012) in Michigan (hereinafter 
2
 
The feasibility of an equitable remedy is evidenced by the University of Chicago’s School of Law Employment Disclosuresonline at
http://www.law.uchicago.edu/prospective/employmentdata
(copy attached as Exhibit B).
 
 
3
Cooley 
”),
3
both being interim orders subject to petitions for reconsideration or appeal, does not mandate a similar ruling from this Court.That is especially true, as defendants’ Demurrers were overruled (the equivalent of denying a Motion toDismiss) in two other cases, in California, on July 19, 2012,
Arring v. Golden Gate University 
, No. CGC-12-517837(Calif. Superior Ct) (the “
GSU 
case”), and
Hallock v. University of San Francisco
, No. CGC-12-517861 (Calif.Superior Ct) (the “
USF 
case”). Those latter two Orders are attached as Exhibits D and E, respectively.One ironic and sad feature of the JMLS Memorandum in support of its Motion is that JMLS, which soenergetically recruited applicants like Plaintiffs by emphasizing the economic advantages to be had if they got their J.D. degree from JMLS instead of another law school, is now mocking and denigrating them for being concernedabout their economic prospects, for being unable to obtain jobs sufficient to let them pay off their law school loans.
4
 
THE MOTION TO DISMISS
When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept “as true all well-pleaded facts and all reasonableinferences that may be drawn from those facts.”
Simpkins v. CSX Transp., Inc.,
2012 IL 110662, ¶ 13 (internalcitations omitted). The allegations are construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party or plaintiff.
Id 
.Most importantly, “[a] cause of action should not be dismissed pursuant to section 2-615 unless it is clearly apparentthat no set of facts can be proved that would entitle the plaintiff to recovery.”
Id 
.
BACKGROUND AND ARGUMENT
 Plaintiffs enrolled in JMLS between 2005 and the present to obtain a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, which is aprerequisite for the practice of law. (Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint (“AC”) ¶¶ 5, 69). In seeking to induce Plaintiffsand prospective students to enroll in JMLS, Defendant published Employment Information on its website and through
U.S. News & World Report 
(“
U.S. News
”) (AC ¶ 27) and elsewhere. The Employment Information purported to
3
 
 A copy of the
Cooley 
Opinion is attached as Exhibit C.
 
4
 
For example: “Plaintiffs want to hold JMLS responsible for their inability to obtain jobs to
their liking 
at some undefined paylevel within some undefined time after graduation,” (Def.Mem p.1); “[Plaintiffs] primarily complain that they did not get jobs fastenough or lucrative enough to suit them.” (Def.Mem p.4); “[Plaintiffs] make no bones about their narrow view of a legal education(Def.Mem p.4).” “Notwithstanding Plaintiffs’ personal preferences, many law school graduates have objectives other than tomake as much money as possible, as fast as possible.” (Def.Mem p.9, fn. 6)
 

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