Thursday, December 30, 2010
BAR/BRI or Kaplan? Class Action Reveals They Are in Cahoots.
On December 6, 2010, a partial payment of $30,000,000 was approved for distribution amongst class members in involved in the BAR/BRI and Kaplan class action law suit. In Rodriguez v. West Publishing Company, plaintiffs sued on behalf of more than 300,000 class members who took a bar review course from BAR/BRI between August 1, 1997 to July 31, 2006. 2007 WL 2827379, *1 (C.D.C.A. Sept. 10, 2007). BAR/BRI is a subsidiary of West Publishing.
Plaintiffs claim that BAR/BRI agreed not to compete in the LSAT business and Kaplan agreed not to compete in the bar review business. Furthermore, plaintiffs argued that BAR/BRI’s offer to law students to pay the full amount for a bar prep course during their 1L year is anticompetitive because it forces test takers into a three year hold. Many students accepted the BAR/BRI lock-in rate and other bar prep courses faced a large barrier to market entry.
The settlement agreement removes the three year hold on law students when they enter into a contract with BAR/BRI. BAR/BRI has also agreed to abide by advertising requirements as noted by antitrust laws. Rodriguez, 2007 WL 2827379, *12. For five years, BAR/BRI will clarify that the law student’s initial enrollment payment does not commit the student to taking BAR/BRI or require the student to make a full payment to BAR/BRI. West Publishing terminated the co-marketing agreement between BAR/BRI and Kaplan that existed since 1997. See here for more details.
With the help of technology and perhaps with the ease of information flow, over 88,000 claims for over 130,000 BAR/BRI courses have been processed. This class action has been described as a class action money mill. Perhaps technology, which promotes quick news, has spurned a settlement amongst the parties. When it comes to big name litigation cases, there is an underlying public interest in settling and quieting litigation. In re Visa Check/Master Money Antitrust Litigation, 297, F. Supp. 2d 503, 510 (E.D.N.Y. 2003).
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