Jessica Karmasek Aug. 6, 2015, 11:45am


LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - An attorney for a former University of Phoenix student is pushing for class certification in a lawsuit alleging the for-profit college engaged in fraudulent business practices.

Linh Cao, a clerk for the Law Offices of Michael T. Carr APC, representing plaintiff Ashley Paredes, said the law firm currently is looking for California students who attended University of Phoenix from November 2011 to November 2014.

Last month, Judge Stephen V. Wilson for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in part granted and in part rejected a dismissal motion filed by University of Phoenix.

Wilson set the deadline for filing a motion for summary judgment for Sept. 8.

For months, the college has been trying to get the case dismissed.

“Setting aside the pleading defects of Plaintiff’s fraud-based claims, no reasonable person could have relied on these alleged misrepresentations, particularly in light of the language in the Enrollment Agreement, which Plaintiff signed, and the Academic Catalog, which Plaintiff acknowledged understanding,” Phoenix’s attorneys wrote in a Feb. 17 motion.

“Moreover, these alleged misrepresentations were statements based on future events, not existing material facts, and thus cannot support a claim for fraud.”

The federal court dismissed Paredes’ first amended complaint in March. She filed her second amended complaint a month later, and Phoenix filed another motion to dismiss soon after.

Paredes, a former University of Phoenix psychology student in California, sued in November. She alleges the college engaged in fraudulent business practices when it sold her a “pipe dream” of transferable credits and a guaranteed job after graduation.

She is seeking class action status for students who enrolled at the university, borrowed tens of thousands of dollars in federal loans and yet found themselves unemployed with allegedly worthless college credits.

Paredes, a young mother of three, enrolled at the University of Phoenix after, she claims, she was promised her associate degree would allow her to continue on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and work as a licensed counselor.

The lawsuit alleges the recruiters for the college promised prospective students that the credits earned at the school would transfer to comparable programs at schools such as California State University.

It also alleges the university’s admissions specialists used aggressive, deceptive, misleading and fraudulent tactics to persuade students to enroll.

According to Paredes’ lawsuit, many students were unable to finish their studies and many more who graduated still could not find jobs -- and regardless of the outcome, students were stuck with large amounts of debt.

The case was originally filed in San Bernadino County Superior Court, but removed to the federal court in December.

Felicia Y. Yu and Raymond Y. Kim of Los Angeles law firm Reed Smith LLP are representing University of Phoenix.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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