Washington DC – June 23, 2020 – Cooley secured a victory for the Charlotte School of Law and InfiLaw Corporation, the school’s parent company, when the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a district court decision after a contested evidentiary hearing approving a limited fund class action settlement between the school and its former students. Partner David Mills led the Cooley team representing the Charlotte School of Law, InfiLaw and several of their officers.
The Fourth Circuit’s opinion ends a more than two-year litigation battle involving three federal class actions and nearly 100 state-court lawsuits brought against InfiLaw, the Charlotte School of Law and several individual officers.
“We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving the limited fund settlement,” US District Judge Rossie Alston Jr. wrote in the appeals court’s opinion. “We further find that the district court did not abuse its discretion by ultimately determining that the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e), and in denying a motion for discovery, largely concerning Defendants’ ability to fund the settlement.”
In January 2019, US District Judge Graham Mullen of the Western District of North Carolina approved a $2.65 million limited fund, non-opt-out class action settlement. The plaintiffs sought $300 million in statutory damages and fees, asserting claims for fraud, misrepresentation, violation of North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and several contract and related claims after the American Bar Association placed the school on probation.
“We are pleased the Fourth Circuit has affirmed the district court’s approval of the class-wide settlement in a thorough and thoughtful opinion,” said Mills. “We look forward to seeing the settlement fund disbursed to the claimants.”
Under the mediated settlement, InfiLaw and the Charlotte School of Law will fund the settlement with insurance proceeds and institutional contributions.
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