Stack denies motion to dismiss Sanford Brown suit, throws out fraud count
A proposed class action case brought against Sanford Brown College and its parent company will continue in Madison County.
Circuit Judge Daniel Stack denied a defense motion to have the case thrown out, although he struck the plaintiffs' claims under common law fraud.
Jessica and Jenna Lilley and the other lead plaintiffs are suing Sanford Brown and Career Education Corp. claiming that they were misled about the value and career paths Sanford Brown's medical assistant degree would lead to.
According to statements made by plaintiffs' attorney John Carey, the proposed class, if it clears a Nov. 15 certification hearing, would include 2,300 Sanford Brown students from the schools' Collinsville campus.
The defendants argued Wednesday morning that the plaintiffs had not pled enough particulars and details in their second amended complaint.
Defense attorney John Richmond also argued that plaintiffs were attempting to apply a doctrine of "educational malpractice" not recognized by Illinois or any other state to the case and that they could not support common law fraud claims that were previously tossed by then-presiding Judge Barbara Crowder.
"You can't simply slap a fraud label on educational malpractice issues to get around that," Richmond told Stack.
Carey countered that the Private Business and Vocational Schools Act imposed special duties that Sanford Brown breached that give rise to the fraud actions.
Carey also told Stack his clients were "darned if we or darned if we don't" when it came to adding details to their complaints but that they had provided enough specifics to maintain their cases.
"It seems like every time a plaintiff pleads a claim for fraud you get a 'you didn't plead with particularity,'" Carey said.
Stack, after reading a copy of the business schools act provided by the plaintiffs' table, asked Carey at several points about how the act was supposed to extend to common law issues.
"I've seen the private action but it doesn't say that there's a common law cause of action," Stack told Carey on the fraud issue. "Where is that?"
Carey continued to make his argument that the duties imposed by the act would extend but Stack dismissed them.
"Where there's a statute that covers it, doesn't it?" the judge asked before tossing the fraud claims.
Stack denied the rest of the motion to dismiss.
He also told the parties that they did not have to meet for a case
management conference set Friday.
The class certification hearing in the case is set Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.
The case is Madison case number 08-L-113.