Student files suit against Florida Coastal School of Law

Complaint alleges school developed a plan to artificially inflate its Bar exam passage rate.

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A student at Florida Coastal School of Law is suing the school and its owner, InfiLaw Corp., alleging that the school breached its contract with the student and negligently misrepresented requirements for education and graduation.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the 4th Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville, on behalf of a plaintiff identified as “Jane Doe,” seeks a jury trial and more than $500,000 in damages.

Florida Coastal interim Dean Jennifer Reiber said Tuesday the school has no comment on the complaint.

According to court documents, the plaintiff enrolled in the law school in January 2016 and was on track to graduate in December 2018.

The complaint points out that the student was “unsure of how she would utilize her degree,” but she recognized the value of a legal education” and “ultimately chose FCSL because she knew she would not be pressured to practice traditional law or be obligated to sit for the Florida bar examination upon graduation.”

The plaintiff alleges that halfway through her time at the school, Florida Coastal changed its passing and graduation requirements; that she was forced to enroll in a Bar examination preparation course; and that Florida Coastal repeatedly changed the passing requirements for the course between semesters.

Originally, the complaint alleges, a 60% score was required to pass the course. Students were advised that was changed to 50%, but grades above the 50% percent threshold would not be determined by the number of questions answered correctly, but rather based on a curve relative to the scores of other students.

Thus, even within the same class, FCSL did not apply grading rules consistently, with some students graded on a curve while others were graded and failed (including the plaintiff) strictly based on the number of questions answered correctly.

The complaint alleges that Florida Coastal's imposition of the Bar exam preparation course and its subsequent change in passing scores, were in response to the American Bar Association finding that Florida Coastal was out of compliance with multiple admission standards.

The plaintiff contends that the compliance plan the school developed to meet the ABA standards was intended to “weed out students” to prevent them from graduating and make them ineligible to sit for the Florida Bar exam. The lawsuit charges that was an effort to “artificially inflate” the school’s Bar passage rate and avoid sanctions that could be imposed by the ABA.

The plaintiff is represented by the Sheppard, White, Kachergus & DeMaggio law firm.

The case is scheduled to be heard by Circuit Judge Tyrie Boyer.