As first reported this summer, the New York City-based culinary school known as the International Culinary Center (ICC) — formerly known as the French Culinary Institute (FCI) — was slapped with a lawsuit by former students alleging it had over-promised graduates and led students to believe they would make more money upon graduation than what the market actually bears. Today, the legal team representing the more than 80 students listed on the suit, Gallo LLP, released a statement confirming that Grabovan v. ICC is moving forward:
The court has denied ICC's motion to dismiss the fraud case filed against it last summer by two former students.
Plaintiffs allege ICC's marketing misrepresents that graduates obtain chef or other "top culinary jobs" when, in fact, most ICC graduates never do.
Plaintiffs' lawyers, Gallo LLP, have recovered tens of millions of dollars for culinary school graduates in other cases alleging school fraud.*
ICC denies the Plaintiffs' allegations. But eighty former ICC students have now hired Gallo LLP to sue ICC for fraud.
The statement directs former students of ICC to a website, www.icclawsuit.com, where interested parties may obtain a copy of the complaint, contribute personal experiences, and, if qualified, join the suit. See the filing in full. According to the website, "[p]laintiffs seek a return of tuition, their student loan fees, and interest. Emotional distress damages may also be recoverable."
For its part, ICC released a statement defending the its business practices when the allegations first came to light in July of this year:
We are extremely proud of our school and what we have accomplished in the 30 years since it was founded. We are equally proud of our alumni and the quality of the education that we provide our students. The claims of the lawsuit are baseless and we expect to prove that in court. We fully stand behind our school and the success of our graduates.
Similar lawsuits have appeared in Pasadena, California and Portland, Oregon. One, involving, Le Cordon Bleu, settled with the plaintiff for $217,000. This latest suit, against one of the country's priciest culinary schools, has fueled the debate on the pros and cons of culinary school.