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After $8.9M Fraud Verdict, Students Seek $6 Million Grant Disgorgement

amden, NJ -- In the wake of an $8.9 million New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) verdict in favor of more than 1,000 students against a for-profit school, the plaintiffs have filed a motion for disgorgement of an additional $5.5 million that Star Career Academy received from the United States in the form of education grants — plus $500,000 in interest on the grant money.

Class Action lawyer Thomas More Marrone of MoreMarrone LLC in Philadelphia has also filed a motion to assess an additional several hundred thousand dollars on the verdict under the CFA and a motion for CFA attorney’s fees. The court is expected to consider these motions in the next several weeks.

Last year a Superior Court jury in Camden, NJ, returned a class action verdict against Star Career Academy, a New Jersey for-profit school, under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. (Polanco v. Star Career Academy, et al., Docket No: 415-13, October 29, 2015).

The disgorgement filing continues the Polanco v Star Career Academy case. The verdict in favor of more than 1,000 current and former Surgical Technology Students totaled $8.9 million including treble damages, and came after a five-week class action jury trial.

No program accreditation

Thomas More Marrone of MoreMarrone LLC served as Court-appointed Class Counsel and with co-Class Counsel tried the case to verdict. Under cross-examination at trial, according to court documents, Star’s CEO agreed with Marrone that Star’s Surgical Technology Program did not, in fact, have “program accreditation,” and that it would be “a lie” to say that it did. This testimony contradicted Star’s written statements to New Jersey’s Department of Health and Star’s student body that Star’s Surgical Technology “program” was “accredited.”

After the verdict, Marrone said, "The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act law places ethical responsibilities on the shoulders of corporations like Star Career Academy and its owners. The jury found that Star violated those responsibilities. It took three years of litigation and five weeks of trial to bring Star to justice, but it was worth it. The Class Members deserve it.”

Based on the court documents, Star Career Academy obtained the Federal Grant money during the years that the jury determined Star Career Academy was engaging in Consumer Fraud.

The case is Polanco v. Star Career Academy, et al. Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, Law Division. Docket No: 415-13.


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