Lanza & Smith, PLC

Lanza & Smith
A Professional Law Corporation

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Irvine, CA 92614
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Lee v. SCUPS

Lee v. Scups - Class Action Litigation

1. Introduction

On November 18, 2005, Patricia Lee, acting through Lanza & Smith, PLC, and certain co-counsel, filed a lawsuit against Southern California University for Professional Studies ("SCUPS"). The lawsuit has been certified as a class action, and thus members of the class might be entitled to legal relief. The lawsuit is entitled: Patricia Lee v. Southern California University for Professional Studies, Case No. 05 CC 00274 (Superior Court, Orange County, California). SCUPS is also known as California Southern University and/or Cal Southern University.

Plaintiff Lee enrolled as a student at SCUPS. Later, she was administratively terminated for not completing her program of study. Legal counsel for the class alleges that, upon her termination, SCUPS should have given her a refund of all or part of her tuition, but failed to do so. It is alleged that SCUPS misrepresented in its literature how it would calculate a tuition refund, so that former SCUPS students received either no refund or an inadequate one.

2. The Lawsuit

In 2002, SCUPS terminated Ms. Lee from her distance-learning juris doctor program. Ms. Lee contended that she was entitled to a pro rata refund of her tuition. SCUPS refused to issue a refund.

As a result, Ms. Lee filed an administrative complaint against SCUPS with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education of the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs (the "Bureau"). After considering the evidence submitted by both parties, the Bureau found that SCUPS's catalogues and related materials were materially misleading. The Bureau also found that SCUPS's stated refund policy violated the then existing Education Code in that it did not allow students a refund if they withdrew prior to completing 60% of a course of study.

Despite the Bureau's finding in favor of Ms. Lee, SCUPS still failed to refund her tuition. She then demanded that SCUPS cease its allegedly deceptive practices and, when SCUPS failed to do so, in 2005 she filed this action. The case was assigned to the Honorable Nancy Wieben Stock in Orange County.

3. Legal Claims

The factual basis for the class members' claims against SCUPS is set forth in the First Amended Complaint. The Complaint alleges two causes of action against SCUPS - a claim under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA," Civil Code § 1780(a)) and one under the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL" and "FAL," Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, 17500, et seq.). The essence of the action is plaintiffs' allegations that class members were induced by SCUPS's deceptive and false representations to enroll and pay tuition; and upon terminating, SCUPS did not issue the legally required refunds. The class seeks (i) damages and restitution of funds paid to SCUPS, plus prejudgment interest; (ii) attorney fees & costs under CLRA (Civ. Code § 1780(a)), UCL/FAL, and Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5; (iii) punitive damages under CLRA (Civ. Code § 1780(a)(4)); and (iv) injunctive relief.

4. Class Certification and Settlement

The lawsuit was certified as a "class action" and then, years later, resolved by means of settlement. Early in 2013, over 250 class members received consideration as part of a court approved settlement. The lawsuit has therefore been successfully concluded.

Lanza & Smith, a Professional Law Corporation, is based in Irvine, California, and represents clients across Southern California, including Irvine, Newport, Newport Coast, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange, Tustin, Anaheim, Corona Del Mar, Laguna, Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Westminster, Riverside, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and Mission Viejo; and Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.