San Diego Law Firm Files Class Action Against Bridgepoint Education

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 24 -- Chapin Fitzgerald Sullivan LLP, a trial boutique law firm based in San Diego, California, filed a class action lawsuit last month against Bridgepoint Education, Inc.; Ashford University; and University of the Rockies.
Feb. 24, 2011 - PRLog -- SAN DIEGO -- Chapin Fitzgerald Sullivan LLP, a trial boutique law firm based in San Diego, California, filed a class action lawsuit last month against Bridgepoint Education, Inc.; Ashford University; and University of the Rockies.  The suit, which was filed in federal court in the Southern District of California on January 12, 2011, alleges that Bridgepoint engaged in a pattern of illegal conduct in an effort to entice students to enroll and to over-charge federal financial aid programs.  Representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are Ed Chapin and Douglas Brown of Chapin Fitzgerald Sullivan LLP.

Bridgepoint, which is headquartered in San Diego, is one of the largest publicly-traded for-profit college companies in the United States.  It owns and operates two academic institutions, Ashford University and University of the Rockies, both of which offer associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs primarily online.  Bridgepoint became a publicly traded company in 2009 and its CEO, Andrew Clark, earned over $20 million in total compensation that same year.

Among the allegations in the complaint are that Bridgepoint hid federally required disclosures from prospective students on its websites, misrepresented to prospective students the true costs of attending its schools, misrepresented the quality of academic instruction its schools provide, misrepresented students’ post-graduation employability and earnings potential; and misrepresented at least one of its schools accreditation with the American Psychological Association (“APA”).  The suit alleges that the defendants engage in this conduct in order to maximize the revenue they receive from federal student loan programs.  It further alleges that Bridgepoint and its affiliated universities specifically target active military and military veterans for their misleading recruitment practices in order to capitalize on federal tuition assistance programs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The lawsuit is styled Guzman v. Bridgepoint Education, Inc., et al. and follows an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) into the practices of for-profit colleges and universities like those Bridgepoint operates.  On August 3, 2010, the GAO reported that for-profit education institutions, like Ashford and University of the Rockies, engaged in a pattern of behavior through which they systematically recruited students with deceptive marketing strategies, harassing recruitment tactics, and prohibited employee incentive programs, all in an attempt to increase student enrollment and drive up company profits.  That report concluded that for-profit education institutions, like those Bridgepoint owns and operates, misrepresent to prospective and enrolled students, among other things, the true cost of attending their schools, their ability to receive and obligation to repay federal tuition assistance, and their post-graduation employability and salary potential.

In an article published on December 9, 2010, Bloomberg News reported that twenty for-profit colleges collectively “reaped $521 million in U.S. taxpayer funds in 2010, seven times more than in 2006, by recruiting armed-service members and veterans through misleading marketing.”  Of the entities included in the report, “Bridgepoint Education, Inc., based in San Diego, ranked second [in receiving tuition assistance from the Defense Department] with $41.2 million.”

The complaint was filed on behalf of a class including, “All persons in the United States who enrolled in and/or attended classes offered by Bridgepoint Education, Inc. through either of its two academic institutions, Ashford University or University of the Rockies, during the period from approximately March 1, 2005 through the present.”  It seeks declaratory relief, restitution to class members, disgorgement of profits, attorney’s fees, and an injunction that would prevent the defendants from continuing the unlawful conduct alleged.

Ed Chapin, one of the attorneys for the class, said, “We expect this lawsuit to shine light on and bring an end to these deceptive recruiting practices.  Bridgepoint has profited handsomely from its wrongdoing, at the expense of the federal government and the students it has misled.”

Chapin Fitzgerald Sullivan LLP is a boutique trial law firm in San Diego, California, focused exclusively on trying cases and handling controversies for its clients.  The firm has a broad body of experience and represents both plaintiffs and defendants, advocating for corporate entities as well as individuals.

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Chapin Fitzgerald Sullivan LLP is a litigation boutique in San Diego, California that has proven its skill at handling intricate and high-stakes cases for individuals and businesses.
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Tags:Class Action, Veterans, Financial Aid, College, Misrepresentation, Litigation, Defense Department, Over Charge
Industry:Legal, Government, Education
Location:San Diego - California - United States
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