Stack certifies class action against Sanford Brown days before retiring

Amelia Flood Nov. 30, 2010, 6:00am


A class action against Sanford Brown Colleges and its corporate parent has been certified by Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

Stack signed the order Monday, just days before his scheduled retirement Dec. 3.

Stack heard oral arguments for and against certification on Nov. 15.

The class will include just over 2,000 students enrolled at Sanford Brown's Collinsville campus who attended its medical assistants program.

The lead plaintiffs in the suit, including Jenna and Jessica Lilley, claim that they and the class were misled about the value and career paths a degree from the school would achieve.

Their attorney, John Carey, told Stack during arguments that the school had basically given his clients and class members "a worthless piece of paper."

Sanford Brown has argued that the plaintiffs' claims are too individual to meet the requirements for a class action.

"This is putting lipstick on a pig," defense counsel James Monafo said Nov. 15.

The school and its corporate parent, Career Education Corp., also contend that the plaintiffs admitted to never reading provided statistics from the school and that they understood what admissions representatives told them about the program and its translation into a job.

Sanford Brown had attempted to have the suit dismissed.

Stack threw out certain claims including certain fraud allegations.

In his Nov. 29 class certification order, Stack finds that class members meet the numerosity requirement for a class action to go forward.

The judge also finds that common questions of law and fact apply to the case on claims under the Illinois Private Business and Vocational Schools Act.

Stack found that the issue of causation, one that the defendants argued was lacking in the case, does not apply under the business and vocational schools statute.

Stack had expressed his doubts about the causation issue during the class certification hearing.

He also questioned whether two classes would be needed in the case.

In the end, he certified a single class.

The St. Louis firm of Carey & Danis LLC and the Klamann Law Firm of Kansas City are designated as class counsel in the order.

The Klamann firm has played a role in several similar individual suits against Sanford Brown in Missouri.

James Monafo, John Richmond and others represent Sanford Brown and Career Education Corp.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-113.

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