Attorneys file lawsuits for 150-plus students against Charlotte School of Law

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Attorneys started filing a new round of lawsuits Tuesday on behalf of 150 students suing Charlotte School of Law and the corporation that owns it, demanding their money back.

This is the latest round in a string of legal challenges against the school since it was placed on probation by the American Bar Association, which caused the Department of Education to pull federal student loans.

Current CSL students say they're still in limbo, even though the school remains open for the spring semester.

"We are disenfranchised," said third-year law student Toni Valentine.

Valentine says students don't know how they'll pay for tuition or even rent ever since the Department of Education pulled federal student loans. Channel 9 obtained a copy of a new lawsuit accusing the school of violating the North Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

"Because it was a for-profit school, money ruled, not education. And they left a lot of poor folks holding the bag," attorney Gary Jackson said.

Jackson is part of a group of attorneys representing more than 150 current and former CSL students through the law offices of James Scott Farrin.

Jackson says his clients would have never enrolled if they knew CSL was falling out of compliance with the American Bar Association.

He says some have failed the bar multiple times; others should not have been admitted or were forced to drop out.

They filed their first lawsuit in state court on behalf of three students who’ve incurred loans ranging from $70,000 to $200,000. Jackson says each student may have unique claims, so they are filing a series of individual lawsuits, then plan to ask the court to consolidate the cases before one judge.

Clients are suing to recover money spent on loans and damages for dimmed job prospects, and more students are considering filing lawsuits even among the 250 attending classes amid the uncertainty.

"Students are very optimistic," Valentine said, adding that many are struggling and while they push for answers from administrators, professors are stepping up and showing lots of support.

"We have faculty here that are going above and beyond the call of duty," Valentine said.

One started a GoFundMe page to cover living expenses. Valentine said the school is also offering a $1,000 loan that students can access if they need help covering bills.

Valentine says she's concerned that students still don't have any answers for a long-term funding solution. The deadline to drop courses is Friday; after that, they'll be on the hook for tuition.

"We've been sold a dream but we want to see the dream manifest," Valentine said.

The law offices of James Scott Farrin are holding an information session to discuss the situation at CSL at 7 p.m. Thursday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Southpark. The event is open to current and former students and alumni.