The lawsuit against the International Culinary Center by a group of former students is getting heated. Last summer, Larry Grabovan and Daniel Oglander filed a class action lawsuit against the school alleging that it engages in an "ongoing fraudulent scheme" to convince students to attend. The plaintiffs claimed that ICC presented them with "false and misleading" facts about the top-level jobs that would be available to them upon graduation and the high salaries they would be able to earn. Instead, they are both thousands of dollars in debt and have only been able to land entry-level jobs, a plight common amongst culinary students.
Now, the ICC is claiming that the class action suit "has unraveled." An emailed statement from a PR representative for the school notes that attorneys for the plaintiffs are not going to go after a class action lawsuit, and instead the two individuals will be given shorter summary judgement motions on their individual claims. If the two plaintiffs are successful in their claims, the ICC notes that "it fully intends to pursue [the] plaintiffs to recover the cost ICC has incurred."
ICC founder Dorothy Hamilton says that the claims against the school are "baseless": "We have spent thirty years building a reputation as an exemplary culinary school." And if the plaintiffs' attorney decides to pursue another case against ICC with other graduates, Hamilton says she is "absolutely confident that these cases will also be defeated."
Ray E. Gallo, an attorney for the plaintiffs says in an e-mail to Eater that the ICC's claims that the lawsuit has "unraveled" are false. Instead the format of the suit has merely transformed:
The court has made no ruling. Our motion for class certification is due today, by midnight eastern time, if we choose to file one.
ICC knew from the outset, as did we, that class certification was unlikely here and that we might elect not to pursue it at all. They knew (we said) that we might find individual actions superior, for reasons discussed briefly below.
We have notified ICC that we anticipate proceeding on a mass rather than a class basis by filing roughly 50 individual lawsuits (or rather one lawsuit with about fifty claims) today or tomorrow. Still more may follow.
ICC now claims it's a victory to be sued by 50 people instead of 2, with the possibility of more to come. Really? The truth is they lost their motion to dismiss the two Gravovan v. ICC individual claims on the merits months ago, and now scores more are being filed.
The battle wages on.