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Mary Morgan, et al v. Richmond School of Health and Technology

April 30, 2012

MARY MORGAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RICHMOND SCHOOL OF HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs are or have been students at Defendant Richmond School of Health and Technology, Inc. ("RSHT"). They bring this suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly-situated for violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691 et seq., Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq., and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-196 et seq., and for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement to contract. The matter is now before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Transfer [Dkt. No. 22]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, Supplemental Briefs, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Transfer is granted.

I. Background*fn1

Plaintiffs, who are dissatisfied students at RSHT, have brought this case as a breach of contract action. RSHT is a for-profit vocational college with campuses in Richmond, Virginia, and Chester, Virginia. RSHT offers vocational degrees for occupations such as surgical technician, medical assistant, and pharmacy technician.

To summarize, Plaintiffs allege that RSHT does not provide the education it promises its prospective students. Notably, despite representation to the contrary, RSHT fails to prepare its students for tests necessary for certification or licensing in their fields, fails to place students in necessary externships, and fails to provide critical equipment or, at times, even teachers.

Nevertheless, tuition at RSHT ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 per program, depending on the program. The vast majority of RSHT's students finance their education through federal financial aid. RSHT itself participates in the financial aid process by filling out and submitting forms to the United States Department of Education ("DOE") on behalf of the student. Once a student qualifies for a loan, RSHT receives funding directly from the United States and credits the student's account to pay for tuition and other charges. The student must later repay the loan with any applicable interest. RSHT graduates often fail to obtain a job in their field of study and thereafter find themselves heavily burdened by tuition debt.

On June 8, 2011, Plaintiffs filed their first Complaint [Dkt. No. 3]. On August 3, 2011, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint [Dkt. No. 3]. On December 7, 2011, the Court granted leave for Plaintiffs to file their Second Amended Complaint [Dkt. No. 21].

The Second Amended Complaint sets forth five causes of action. First, Plaintiffs claim that RSHT violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691 et seq., because its use of financial aid intentionally discriminated and disparately impacted African Americans. Second, Plaintiffs claim that RSHT violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq., because its acts, policies, and practices intentionally discriminated against African Americans. Third, Plaintiffs claim that RSHT violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-196 et seq., by committing fraudulent acts relating to Plaintiffs' enrollment. Fourth, Plaintiffs claim that RSHT breached its contracts with them by violating the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and failing to provide Plaintiffs with an adequate education. Fifth, Plaintiffs claim that RSHT fraudulently induced them to contract.

On December 15, 2011, RSHT filed this Motion to Dismiss or Transfer pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3). On January 13, 2012, Plaintiffs filed their Opposition [Dkt. No. 13]. On January 20, 2012, RSHT filed its Reply [Dkt. No. 25].

II. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over each defendant. FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Mkts., Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1091 (D.C. Cir. 2008). In order to satisfy this burden, a plaintiff must establish the court's jurisdiction over each defendant through specific allegations in his or her complaint. Kopff v. Battaglia, 425 F. Supp. 2d 76, 80-81 (D.D.C. 2006). Additionally, the plaintiff cannot rely on conclusory allegations; rather, he or she must allege the specific facts on which personal jurisdiction is based. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exchange Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C. Cir. 1988).

On a motion to dismiss for improper venue under Rule 12(b)(3), "the court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in plaintiff's favor, and resolves any factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor." Pendleton v. Mukasey, 552 F. Supp. 2d 14, 17 (D.D.C. 2008) (citation and internal quotations omitted). "Because it is the plaintiff's obligation to institute the action in a permissible forum, the plaintiff usually bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper." Freeman v. Fallin, 254 F. Supp. 2d 52, 56 (D.D.C. 2003).

III. Analysis

A. Personal ...


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