Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colls., Inc., No. 2:19-cv-02583

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtSAMUEL H. MAYS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Citation469 F.Supp.3d 805
Parties Michele ALSBROOK, Latanya Brownlee, Buffy Cleven (Bell), Barbara Collins, Edward Evans, Wendy Holley, Kendra Lloyd, Caleb Martin, Mercedes Treadway, Kendra Warren, and Darren Williams, Plaintiffs, v. CONCORDE CAREER COLLEGES, INC., Defendant.
Decision Date25 June 2020
Docket NumberNo. 2:19-cv-02583

469 F.Supp.3d 805

Michele ALSBROOK, Latanya Brownlee, Buffy Cleven (Bell), Barbara Collins, Edward Evans, Wendy Holley, Kendra Lloyd, Caleb Martin, Mercedes Treadway, Kendra Warren, and Darren Williams, Plaintiffs,
v.
CONCORDE CAREER COLLEGES, INC., Defendant.

No. 2:19-cv-02583

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division.

Signed June 25, 2020


469 F.Supp.3d 819

Amy Worrell Sterling, Charles S. Mitchell, Christopher Michael Williams, Brice Moffatt Timmons, William E. Cochran, Jr., Black McLaren Jones Ryland & Griffee, P.C., Memphis, TN, for Plaintiffs.

Douglas F. Halijan, William David Irvine, Burch Porter & Johnson, PLLC, Memphis, TN, Therese King Nohos, Pro Hac Vice, Brian J. Murray, Pro Hac Vice, Timothy D. Elliott, Rathje Woodward LLC, Wheaton, IL, for Defendant.

ORDER

SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Before the Court is Defendant Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.’s ("Concorde") January 9, 2020 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (the "Motion to Dismiss"). (ECF No. 30.) On March 20, 2020, Plaintiffs responded. (ECF No. 41.) On April 10, 2020, Concorde replied. (ECF No. 45.)

For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. Background

For purposes of the Motion to Dismiss, the facts are taken from the Amended Complaint.

Concorde is a career college that offers healthcare-related programs and degrees. (ECF No. 23 ¶ 17.) Concorde offers a Health Information Management ("HIM") program of study through which students can obtain an associate's degree in HIM. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs are former students in the HIM program. (Id. ¶ 22.) Each Plaintiff graduated from the HIM program with an associate's degree. (Id. ¶¶ 60, 64.)

Plaintiffs were enrolled in, and graduated from, the HIM program at different times between 2013 and 2016. They fall into four groups:

469 F.Supp.3d 820
Plaintiff Group Enrollment Date Graduation Date
Group 1 (Plaintiffs Collins, Evans, Warren, and Treadway) March 1, 2013 June 17, 2014
Group 2 (Plaintiffs Bell, Brownlee, and Williams) October 1, 2013 February 18, 2015
Group 3 (Plaintiffs Alsbrook and Martin) June 1, 2014 October 31, 2015
Group 4 (Plaintiffs Holley and Lloyd) May 1, 2015 August 23, 2016

(Id. ¶¶ 34, 39, 46, 51.)1

Plaintiffs allege that, before, while, and after they were Concorde students, Concorde repeatedly misrepresented the present or future accreditation status of the HIM program with the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education ("CAHIIM").2 (See id. ¶¶ 23-77.) For an HIM degree to be of practical use, the holder of the degree must be able to sit for, and pass, the Registered Health Information Technician ("RHIT") exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 28.) To sit for the RHIT exam, a candidate must have a degree from an accredited HIM program. (Id. ¶ 29.) Individuals who pass the RHIT exam receive an RHIT certification. (Id. ¶ 23.)

Concorde's HIM program was not accredited when Plaintiffs enrolled. (Id. ¶ 27.) It was not accredited when Plaintiffs graduated. (Id. ¶ 60.) Plaintiffs allege that Concorde made many misrepresentations about the accreditation status of the HIM program. They allege that, both before and during their enrollment, Concorde repeatedly

469 F.Supp.3d 821

represented that the HIM program was currently accredited or would be by the time Plaintiffs graduated, and that Plaintiffs would graduate with the ability to sit for the RHIT exam. (See id. ¶¶ 23, 26, 31, 33, 35-36, 38, 41, 43-45, 47, 49, 52, 56-57.) They allege that, after they graduated, Concorde represented that the HIM program would be accredited "soon." (See id. ¶¶ 61, 68.)

Plaintiffs also allege that Concorde made misrepresentations about two topics related to, but distinct from, accreditation status. First, they allege that, after graduation, Concorde represented that, once the HIM program became accredited, Concorde would offer remedial training, at no charge, to prepare Plaintiffs to successfully sit for the RHIT exam. (See id. ¶¶ 64, 66.) Second, they allege that, after graduation, Concorde represented that, "should the [HIM] program not obtain accreditation by September 1, 2018," Concorde would issue Plaintiffs "a full refund of tuition and other fees, and any applicable grants." (Id. ¶ 64.)

Concorde's HIM program did not become accredited by September 1, 2018. (Id. ¶ 69.) After September 1, 2018, Plaintiffs asked that Concorde refund their tuition. (Id. ¶ 70.) Concorde refused to refund tuition to any of the Plaintiffs. (Id. )

The HIM program became accredited on or around December 31, 2018. (Id. ¶ 74.) Before December 31, 2018, Plaintiffs were not eligible to sit for the RHIT exam or to obtain an RHIT certification. (Id. ¶¶ 64, 74.) After December 31, 2018, Concorde offered Plaintiffs a remedial training program designed to prepare them to sit for the RHIT exam. (Id. ¶ 77.) However, the remedial program offered was insufficient to prepare Plaintiffs to sit successfully for the RHIT exam and conflicted with some Plaintiffs’ employment or educational schedules. (Id. ¶¶ 77-78.)

On August 29, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint. (ECF No. 1.) On November 25, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 23.) In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs assert seven claims against Concorde: (1) fraud and fraudulent inducement to contract (the "fraud claim"); (2) unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 47-18-101 et seq. (the "TCPA claim"); (3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) promissory estoppel; (5) breach of contract; (6) negligence; and (7) quasi-contract and/or unjust enrichment (the "unjust enrichment claim"). (See id. ¶¶ 91-126.) Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for: (1) the cost of their tuition and expenses; (2) the interest they incurred on their student loans; (3) the value of the time they spent participating in the HIM program; (4) the value of lost employment opportunities; and (5) the value of lost earnings. (See id. ¶ 128(a)-(e).) Plaintiffs also seek treble damages for the TCPA claim; punitive damages; and attorney's fees and suit expenses. (Id. ¶ 128(f)-(h).)

On January 9, 2019, Concorde filed the Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), asserting that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (ECF No. 30.)

II. Jurisdiction and Choice of Law

The Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiffs Alsbrook, Brownlee, Collins, Evans, Holley, Lloyd, Treadway, Warren, and Williams are resident citizens of Tennessee. (ECF No. 23 ¶¶ 1-2, 4-7, 9-11.) Plaintiffs Bell and Martin are resident citizens of Mississippi. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 8.) Concorde is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Mission, Kansas. (Id. ¶ 12.) The parties are completely diverse.

469 F.Supp.3d 822

The amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied. Plaintiffs allege that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (Id. ¶ 13.) "[T]he sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the claim is apparently made in good faith." St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288, 58 S.Ct. 586, 82 L.Ed. 845 (1938).

State substantive law applies to state law claims in federal court. See Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78-80, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938). When there is no dispute that a certain state's substantive law applies, the court need not conduct a choice-of-law analysis sua sponte. See GBJ Corp. v. E. Ohio Paving Co., 139 F.3d 1080, 1085 (6th Cir. 1998). The parties assume that Tennessee substantive law applies to Plaintiffs’ claims. (See ECF No. 30-1 at 6-19; ECF No. 41 at 8-28.) The Court will apply Tennessee substantive law.

III. Standard of Review

Rule 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint that "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A Rule 12(b)(6) motion permits the "defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief even if everything alleged in the complaint is true." Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993) (citing Nishiyama v. Dickson Cty., 814 F.2d 277, 279 (6th...

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  • Thompson v. Hendrickson USA, LLC, NO. 3:20-cv-00482
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • March 5, 2021
    ...is the case . . . dismissing the claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Id.; see also Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colleges, Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 823 (W.D. Tenn. 2020). Defendant is claiming that the Complaint and the documents referenced in the Complaint affirmatively show that so......
  • Thompson v. Hendrickson USA, LLC, NO. 3:20-cv-00482
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • March 5, 2021
    ...is the case . . . dismissing the claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Id.; see also Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colleges, Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 823 (W.D. Tenn. 2020). Defendant is claiming that the Complaint and the documents referenced in the Complaint affirmatively show that so......
  • Sandlin v. CitiMortgage, Inc., No. 2:19-cv-02368-JTF-atc
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • March 1, 2021
    ...claim in which a court may impose a contractual obligation where one does not exist." Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colls., Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 827 (W.D. Tenn. 2020) (quoting Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty. v. Cigna Healthcare of Tenn., Inc., 195 S.W.3d 28, 32 (Tenn. Ct. App......
  • Roof Maxx Techs. v. Holsinger, 2:20-cv-03154
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 16, 2021
    ...as the allegations' details provide sufficient notice as to the time of the misrepresentations. See Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colls., 469 F.Supp.3d 805, 844 (W.D. Tenn. 2020) (allegation that the statements were made “[a]fter Plaintiffs graduated” was specific enough to provide notice); R......
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10 cases
  • Thompson v. Hendrickson USA, LLC, NO. 3:20-cv-00482
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • March 5, 2021
    ...is the case . . . dismissing the claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Id.; see also Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colleges, Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 823 (W.D. Tenn. 2020). Defendant is claiming that the Complaint and the documents referenced in the Complaint affirmatively show that so......
  • Thompson v. Hendrickson USA, LLC, NO. 3:20-cv-00482
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • March 5, 2021
    ...is the case . . . dismissing the claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Id.; see also Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colleges, Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 823 (W.D. Tenn. 2020). Defendant is claiming that the Complaint and the documents referenced in the Complaint affirmatively show that so......
  • Sandlin v. CitiMortgage, Inc., No. 2:19-cv-02368-JTF-atc
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • March 1, 2021
    ...claim in which a court may impose a contractual obligation where one does not exist." Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colls., Inc., 469 F. Supp. 3d 805, 827 (W.D. Tenn. 2020) (quoting Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty. v. Cigna Healthcare of Tenn., Inc., 195 S.W.3d 28, 32 (Tenn. Ct. App......
  • Roof Maxx Techs. v. Holsinger, 2:20-cv-03154
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 16, 2021
    ...as the allegations' details provide sufficient notice as to the time of the misrepresentations. See Alsbrook v. Concorde Career Colls., 469 F.Supp.3d 805, 844 (W.D. Tenn. 2020) (allegation that the statements were made “[a]fter Plaintiffs graduated” was specific enough to provide notice); R......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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