Settlement: Le Cordon Bleu/Western Culinary and Career Education Corp.

It only took 10 years. Late yesterday, we agreed to settle our consumer fraud class action against Western Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu-Portland, and Career Education Corp.

Under the settlement, class members will get refunds of 44 percent of the amounts that they paid for tuition, books, and fees. The 44 percent is reduced for class members who owe money directly to the school. (That reduction does NOT apply to student loans; it’s only if you owed money directly to the school.) The settlement must be approved by the court, so it is not a done deal, and we still have far to go.

There are some other features to the settlement. About $1 million in debts owed by students back to the school will be wiped clean. The defendants will pay attorney fees on top of the refund amounts. The Court will decide how much in attorney fees we will receive.

There is one other feature that is kind of a big deal. In the world of student loans, a borrower can defend against a collection action by raising the fraud of the school. Under the settlement, class members can still litigate the fraud of the school as a defense to loans. Also, they can use the information that we gathered over the last 10 years to help defend against collection actions. It is possible that former students could have their loan balances wiped away.

The student loan wipe-away is something that class members will have to undertake on their own–Sallie Mae and Navient were not parties to this case. Class members who want to pursue that option will need to hire their own student-loan defense lawyers. If you’re in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, we can provide a reference.

So if you’ve read this far, you probably want to know how much and when. If all goes well, payment would be sometime this summer. But it could be delayed. As far as how much, it’s simply math. If you paid $40,000 toward an associates degree–many paid more–and you don’t owe money back to the school, your 44 percent refund would pay back $17,600.

To get the money, you will need to file a claim. Claim forms should be going out in March. Once the claim period starts, you will have 90 days to file your claim. If you don’t file it by then, you lose your right to make a claim, and Career Education Corp. gets to keep the money. We don’t want that to happen! So we’ll be working with you to make sure that you get your claim filed.

Also, this settlement doesn’t apply to those who have to go to arbitration. If you’re in the arbitration group, we can continue to help you, but you have to help us help you. We are pursuing refunds for the arbitration group and will do whatever is necessary to achieve a recovery. If you’re a member of the arbitration group and haven’t done so, please sign up through our portal. There are deadlines for filing for arbitration. If you don’t take action, your rights will be lost.

So that’s the story. We’re pleased with our progress and this development. And of course, we will continue forward.

-David

0 thoughts on “Settlement: Le Cordon Bleu/Western Culinary and Career Education Corp.

  • Katherine Howard says:

    Thank you for your good work Mr. Sugerman, it has been a battle well fought.
    If a person owes and in arrears, does the payment go to Navient?

  • Hi Katherine-
    The money goes to you, not Navient. You might want to use it to litigate or possibly negotiate a payoff. Or you might choose to keep it. Your call.

  • What is the refund of payments made directly to the school? $30k was in student loans and approximately $10k was paid directly to Cordon Bleu, that 10k doesn’t include interest charged. What would be the proposed return on this scenario?

  • Whether you paid all in cash, all by borrowing, or by a mix of loans and cash doesn’t matter. The refund looks to how much you were charged.

  • Thank you for all your hard work on this! My Son graduated from Western in 2004, are there any other avenues he can take?
    He still owes $11K but is current on both loans that started out at $39K.

  • Hi Michael-
    Please contact us at (503) 228.6474, and we can get your updated contact information and confirm that you are covered by the case.

  • Carmen Ford-Treacy says:

    Hi,

    I just saw the KGW report about your work and the Le Cordon Bleu settlement. I was a student to received an AOS in Patisserie and Baking in 2005. I too was disillusioned about my prospects, as promised by Western Culinary, when I graduated. I was hoping to have a new career, away from the administrative office world. I tried unsuccessfully to find good paying employment and when that didn’t work out, I tried to start my own bakery. After nearly 6 months, I decided it was best for me to return to my administrative work. Eventually, I found a decent paying administrative position, and with my husband’s support, I used all of my pay to pay off my Sallie Mae loan. I would be very interested in filing a claim. Many thanks for all of your wonderful work in getting this resolved for many of us who feel like we were had.

  • Hi Carmen-
    I’m afraid the news report left out something important. The group that is covered by the case are those who enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. I’m afraid the case does not cover those who attended in 2005 and that we can’t help you.
    -David

  • Does this settlement apply to students who enrolled and started before March 2006, but attended and graduated after that date?

  • Hi Matthew-
    Based on an earlier ruling of the court, if you signed your enrollment agreement before early March 2006, you’re not included.

  • I haven’t read into the details. Why does the claim only cover those who attended between March 2006 and Mach 2010? My husband attended between 2003-2005. Great work nonetheless.

  • Duncan MacGibbon says:

    My son attended the Institute and I believe he has a right to file a claim, based on when he enrolled. He will be watching for future information, buy could you please add my email to your contact list? Danny forwarded this message to me, but I want to stay informed and help make sure that he does not miss any future communications or deadlines.
    Thank you,
    Duncan

  • I signed an enrollment agreement in March of 2005 and graduated in May of 2006. This particular settlement won’t apply to me. However, you are saying that the information gathered from this could possibly be used by me to fight Navient on the amount I still owe them? The original loan amount of $19k was at a ridiculous (criminal even) interest rate, but I was told that the employment I could obtain would pay it off in no time. That employment never materialized and due to low wages I had to put my payment into forbearance a few times. I have paid them $26k so far (mostly in interest) and still owe $60k at $900 a month!!!!!! I’m barely making the payments and have no forbearance left. If I stop paying, they will come after me and garnish my wages which will instantly make me homeless. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all of your hard work for the people.

  • Hi Meghann-I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard this story. It’s why we’ve stayed with this fight. There may still be a path forward for you, but its’ a bit complicated. If you can call us at 503.228.6474, I can discuss it with you. We’re a bit crazy with calls, so if you don’t get through, I will call you back.

  • Hi Duncan-
    We need to confirm that your son is covered by the case. The news missed an important point: It covers people who first enrolled and attended between March 2006 and March 2010. Please have your son call us if he thinks he qualifies, and we can confirm and then get his updated information if he is covered.

  • It’s a bit technical, but it has to do with the filing date of the case and the statute of limitations. The court ruled on this many years ago, and that ruling locked in the dates and qualifications.

  • ADAM DAVIDSON says:

    I graduated Le Cordon Blue in 2002 under the restaurant management program. My tuition in was paid in full. Is there any recourse for me?

  • Our case covers only people who first enrolled or attended between March 2006 and March 2010. So no, we can’t help you.

  • David F Sugerman says:

    Hi Katherine-
    I am not qualified to give tax advice, and I really don’t have any idea whether amendments to the tax code earlier this year affected the recovery. For purposes of consulting with a tax professional, the best way to think of this is that your individual recovery is a partial refund, and our fees are being paid directly by the defendants.

  • Colleen Reyes says:

    Great work and thank you! I am drowning in loan debt from a worthless degree and this gives me hope. I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I have to use a lawyer and will it be a long process or what would it entail?

  • Hello, i attended Western culinary in November 2006 -Graduated May 2008. What documents do you specifically need to file the claim in March? I recently requested Navient to send me documents showing when the loan was taken and to which school. Is that enough? I don’t have enrollement paperwork from 11 years ago just loan docs and my degree.

  • Hi-If you contact us through our website we should be able to confirm your membership and whether you fall into the class group or arbitration group. If you fall into the class group, it’s unlikely that you will need to do much more than file a claim–we should have your proof and should be able to fill out most of the claim form for you. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.
    -David

  • If you are on our list, a claim form should come to you. You could call our office at 503.228.6474. We can check to make sure you’re on the list and update your address.

  • Any path of action for those who were enrolled after 2010? I graduated in 2014 and still owe on the majority of my loan.

  • Hi, I’m trying to call the office but there is no respons is there any other way to get a hold of someone I can speak to? Thank you in advance

  • We’re closed today because of snow. If you leave a message for Marla at 503.228.6474, we will get back to you.
    -David

  • I have questions if I attended to Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu 2007 to 2010 not successful for future careers you will able help me or only in Oregon?

  • Sorry, but I’m not licensed in Nevada, and our case covers only the Portland location. I’m afraid we can’t help you.

    -David

  • Hi there, I enrolled and started in August of 2010. What qualifies the cutoff to March of 2010? Would I still be considered?

  • The court set the end date of March 1, 2010 years ago. That ruling prevents anyone who started after that date from joining the case.

  • Cary Baker (formerly Cary Hatfield) says:

    Hello. I was a former student that was interviewed by your office over 10 years ago. Unfortunately it was decided years after that meeting that the class would only cover students that enrolled between 3/06 and 3/10 and I missed that timeframe by a few months. I have read your post above (and have followed it for years) and now I’m incredibly interested in the possible student loan forgiveness information. I feel stuck in this debt, even though I am not in collection status (painfully paying each month for 10 years with another 10 years left to go. No longer working in the food biz). I would like info on the process to use the fraud of the school to have loans dismissed. Would I need to hire a lawyer for this and will it be another 10 year process? Thank you for any info and thanks for all your hard work!

  • Hi Cary-
    Thanks for your note. Best bet is to call our office at 503.228.6474. Depending on where you live, I can probably make a referral and answer some of your questions.
    -David

  • Stephen Eugene Cox says:

    I graduated from the Le Cordon Blue school in Chicago (Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago). I attended 2003 – 2005, have you heard of any class action suits involving this school? It sounds as if C.E.C practiced deception among all of their culinary schools. We were fed the same lies and b.s. here as well! Can someone poi t me in the right direction if you have heard any other class action suits involving them.
    Thank you!

  • Thanks for your help David. What is the anticipated legal fees we would have to pay and does it come out of our refund?

  • Under the settlement agreement, legal fees do not come out of your refund amount. They are paid to the lawyers for the class separately. The court will decide the amount of the fees. (All of this assumes that the court approves the settlement, including the refund amounts and fees.)

  • Stacy DeMartelaere says:

    I recently moved and never received a claim form, how can I get one sent to me? I didn’t get my address changed until recently and my former roommates likely threw my mail away… I also would like a referral to the student loan attorneys that you mentioned.

    Thank you for all your hard work!

  • Dana Wheeler says:

    I am wondering if you all represent anyone from other campus’ outside of the Portland area. I was a student at the Le Cordon Bleu location in Orlando Fl and I am a loss for help as this is what happened to all of us here too but i am finding no local representation and im not sure how to go about this process.

  • We are only handling Oregon claims. I am unaware of anyone doing these cases in other states besides prior cases in California. I have a colleague who is handling debt defense claims for people who owe money on loans related to LCB programs. Here is his contact information

  • David,
    Congratulations on a well-deserved settlement.
    1. Has the settlement been approved by the Court?
    2. What is the claim filing deadline?
    3. What is the deadline for filing for arbitration?
    4. My son has three WCI loans which appear to be covered by your settlement. Loan documents for two have been lost. How can we determine which ones must be arbitrated?

  • Thank you. Larry-Please have your son contact us ASAP. Best bet is to call me at 503.228.6474. This is very important. Claim deadline is June 7, 2018. Approval hearing is June 8, 2018.

  • Jacob zukowski says:

    So I started at Western and I think 2003 maybe 2004 and due to my mother getting ill and my step father passing away I transfer to Pennsylvania culinary in 04 At the admissions office I had to retake a bunch of classes that I’ve already taken at Western and basically when all is said and done my student loan percentage went from 3% at Western to18% of Pennsylvania and they are both le cordon blue schools So basically they were telling me I had to pay about $900 a month right out of school unfortunately my mother passed away and left me a little bit of money and ended up paying them about $35,000 don’t know if I can get any help with this but we are at Western culinary when the transition was going on from the old building to the new we have no product no structure complete shit show

  • HollY Peralta says:

    If i have my school debt in collections will this 44% refund be going to collection or myself?

  • Are there any updates as far as if the pay out is happening? I submitted my paperwork and am just wondering if this is real or not. If it is real, do you think refunds will happen this year or far away future?
    Thank you for keeping us in the loop through our this long ordeal!

  • Are there any updates as far as if the pay out is happening? I submitted my paperwork and am just wondering if this is real or not. If it is real, do you think refunds will happen this year or far away future?
    Thank you for keeping us in the loop throuh this long ordeal!

  • Rocky Rivard says:

    So, heads up to any students who were attending from 2005-2007, I didn’t make the class, as I enrolled few months before class timeline. I just got a notification from my credit monitor CreditWise, that Transunion updated my rating. On May 7th I had $43,604.78 in delinquent Navient student loan debt. As of today, May 8th, my score jumped up 116 points and ALL STUDENT LOAN DEBT AND DELINQUENT PAYMENT HISTORY REMOVED. Yes, that Just happened. I can only attribute it to this:

    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/342578-student-loan-debt-may-be-wiped-away-over-missing-paperwork-report

    Check your Credit report. Creditkarma.com is free and legit. You may have just gotten an impossible glitch in the matrix blessing. I give God all the glory of this. A miracle.

  • Did you file your claim or sign up for arbitration? Depending on when you attended, you are either part of the class action settlement, in the arbitration group, or outside of the time period. Feel free to call us at 503.228.6474 if you have questions.

  • Hi Holly-
    The money is yours. You can apply it toward your debts or use it to hire a lawyer to negotiate a better deal or even try to legally reduce or avoid the debt. You can call us at 503.228.6474 for more information. -David

  • It’s been a long haul, and while things will wind up this summer for the class, the arbitration group must continue on. Thanks for your kind words. -David

  • Hi Chelsea-
    Things are looking good. While we still must get final approval from the court, I think the settlement is likely to go through. If it does, payment would probably be late July or early August.

  • Heather McNeil says:

    I filled out the forms online and didn’t receive any paperwork after. Can you confirm that you have everything you need from me?

  • Hi Heather-
    We don’t communicate with clients through blog posts. You can use the WCI Fraud Claims portal to contact us.

  • If we are included in the settlement, can our parents who cosigned our loans still participate in the student loan forgiveness program? Although my portion of my student loans have been paid off, my mother owes a majority of her portion still. I understand she will not benefit from the 44% pay out, but is there something we can do to help with her portion of my student loans?

  • If the settlement is approved on Friday, is the money received considered taxable income or is it exempt for taxes?

    Thanks!

  • As noted elsewhere, final approval was granted, and checks are expected to be mailed out August 10. Sorry that your comment got buried in the onslaught. If you want more information and better response, I would suggest that you follow us on our firm Facebook page. You can read about detailed updates and have a portal for direct message to us.
    -David

  • Rebecca Kelleher says:

    Hi David,
    My husband and I both went to Brooks Institute in CA, which was owned by Career Education Corp, CEC, and there is a huge amount of miss-leading the schools did during our time there. Is it by any chance included in the suit against CEC? There are is a large number of students that were unable to finish their degrees when Brooks was closed by CEC and a huge number of us who were miss-lead. Even my husband and I who graduated have had issues since he got a different degree when he finished than was expected. Just curious!

  • Our case only covered culinary in Portland. You might want to talk to a lawyer in CA., but I suspect the time to file ran a long time ago.

  • I have a potential client that missed the deadline for the Culinary Institute of Portland settlement. I believe the deadline was in June 2018, but he claims he did not know about it until recently. Any way he can petition for inclusion in the class?

  • Hey, I’m messaging here on behalf of a sibling who lives abroad and missed the deadlines. Does anyone know if today’s court ruling on the Obama-era student debt relief act is another option for people like my sibling?

  • The current Department of Education under Secretary DeVos is very hostile to fraud claims. It’s possible that the court ruling will lead to real relief, but I have my doubts. And yes, we claimed that they inflated placement rates.

  • Hey, I graduated at I believe 2003? Top of the class however… i used to teach and they told me quit my job if I was really trying to do to fo this. So I quit my 40k annual job and drove in at 8$ an hour. I was told this degree would put me head n shoulders above everyone else. 15 years later yes I’m in charge finally back at 40k however I have a mortgage payment for something that my mom taught me and some tricks they showed me that I couldve learned in a weekend .

  • Our case focused on the 2006-2010 period. I’m not surprised that some of the same things were going on earlier. Thanks for sharing that piece of history.

  • Virginia Allen says:

    My son was the first batch of Le Cordon Bleu students in Las Vegas in 2004 who graduated in 2006. I am still paying the Federal Loans and Private loans of over $50k at the 7% and 13% interests respectively. Is there any hope on his case?

  • I’m not licensed in Nevada and cannot advise you. I suggest you talk to a lawyer licensed in that state about his options. You would want someone who practices in the areas of consumer protection, with experience in student loan law.
    -David Sugerman

  • I am not licensed to practice law in Arizona and can’t assist you. I suggest you contact someone there who has experience with consumer fraud class actions.
    -David Sugerman

  • It depends on the type of loans. The recent ruling applied only to student loans made under the direct loan program

  • I was a student at LCB WCI during this time period. I was never notified of this class action lawsuit. Is it possible to see if I qualify? Thanks

  • Feel free to call our office at 503.228.6474. The short answer is that it’s too late, even if you were part of the class. There is a good chance you were not part of the class. To qualify, you needed to sign your enrollment agreement and start classes in Portland between March 2006 and March 2010. If you signed your agreement before that date or if you dropped out without withdrawing, you would not have been included.

  • Cynthia Basinger says:

    Thank you for all the info here. My son attended in California in 2008, finished in 2009. I sadly co-signed for a private loan that he was coerced into signing. He had a terrible accident in 2013 leaving him permanently disabled. Is going to school and has been able to defer loan until three months ago. In forbearance status. Is there any chance we could get out of this if we found an attorney in California who could plead the fraud case applying the case law and precedent you so successfully applied to the Le Cordon Bleu suit in Portland?

  • It’s worth talking to someone in your local community who has expertise in student loan debt defense. It may be possible to discharge the loans because of your son’s disability. One place to find good referrals is the National Association of Consumer Advocates. You can search here https://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney by state and by practice area. Good luck.

  • As a student during this time period at WCI in Portland, I was following this waiting to hear about it. I saw that it was delayed, and figured I would hear about it once settled. I heard nothing, until today when I was wondering about it and googled it. Why weren’t the students affected contacted to file their claim? And now it’s too late? This is incredibly disappointing as I had well over $30,000 in loans and tuition to them during this time. My SL debt is almost doubled now due to default, interest, and fees. The private loans they talked me into have been the worst possible financial damage to me. Is there really nothing to be done at this point?

  • We tried very hard to notify people, using mail, email, and social mediA. I am sorry that you did not see any of our notices and updates. Most people did.
    -David

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