Monday, March 14, 2016

Lawyer Sues Law School

Like this world owes her a living....

"Court to hear suit accusing Calif. law school of inflating job data" by Elizabeth Olson New York Times  March 06, 2016

NEW YORK — Nearly a decade has passed since an aspiring young lawyer in California, Anna Alaburda, graduated in the top tier of her class, passed the state bar exam, and set out to use the law degree she had spent some $150,000 to acquire.

But on Monday, in a San Diego courtroom, she will tell a story that has become all too familiar among law students in the United States: Since graduating from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2008, she has yet to find a full-time, salaried job as a lawyer.

From there, though, her story has taken an unusual twist: Alaburda, 37, is the first former law student whose case against a law school, charging that it inflated the employment data for its graduates as a way to lure students to enroll, will go to trial.

With all due respect, I really don't give a f*** anymore.

Other disgruntled students have tried to do the same. In the last several years, 15 lawsuits have sought to hold various law schools accountable for publicly listing information critics say was used to pump up alumni job numbers by counting part-time waitress and other similar, full-time jobs as employment. Only one suit besides Alaburda’s remains active.

None of the other cases reached trial because judges in Illinois, Michigan, and New York, where several cases were filed, generally concluded that law students had opted for legal education at their own peril, and were sophisticated enough to have known that employment as a lawyer was not guaranteed.

But a California judge let Alaburda’s suit proceed, brushing aside efforts by the law school to derail her claims.

“It has taken five years,” said her lawyer, Brian A. Procel of Los Angeles. “But this will be the first time a law school will be on trial to defend its public employment figures.” 

There has to be some delicious irony there.

Alaburda’s day in court will take on added meaning: These will be her first public words after years of silence while she pursued a remedy for a legal education gone wrong.

She now has student debt of $170,000, with loan interest around 8 percent. Her law degree was not a ticket to a stable, well-paying career, but an expensive detour before she went on to work in a series of part-time positions, mostly temporary jobs reviewing documents for law firms.

Welcome to the 21st-century economy.

As her debt mounted and her job prospects faltered, she filed a lawsuit in 2011, arguing that she would not have enrolled at Thomas Jefferson if she had known the law school’s statistics were misleading.

False adverti$ing? 

That's protected $peech. 

Buyer beware. 

It's in the document Jefferson wrote, right?

Thomas Jefferson’s average student indebtedness, then about $137,000 — higher than that at Stanford Law School the same year — was among the highest in the nation. She also pointed to her school’s bar passage rate as consistently lower than 50 percent, which was below the average in California.

Thomas Jefferson, like other accused law schools, maintained that it filed only the data that the American Bar Association’s accrediting body required.

And judges largely agreed. Students would have to be “wearing blinders” not to see that a “goodly number of law school graduates toil [perhaps part time] in drudgery or have less than hugely successful careers,” New York Supreme Court Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer wrote in 2012, dismissing a lawsuit by nine former students against New York School of Law.

They had asked for $225 million in damages, on grounds that they had been misled by the school’s stated employment figures to believe they had rosier employment prospects than the job market offered.

Happens all the time. Government and pre$$ lie about economy, wars, and damn near everything else. If it's not a lie it is a distortion.

Thomas Jefferson, which was fully accredited by the ABA in 2001, says its employment data is accurate and Alaburda’s claims are “meritless.” The school has 434 full-time students.

Thomas F. Guernsey, the dean, said he could not comment on continuing litigation but noted in a statement that the school had “a strong track record of producing successful graduates, with 7,000 alumni working nationally and internationally.”

Law schools labor to keep their employment data at the highest percentage level because it is a major factor in national law school rankings, which in turn give schools the credibility to charge six figures for a three-year legal education.

Fudging the numbers, as Procel plans to argue in the case against Thomas Jefferson, entices students to choose an education that can result in lifelong debt that cannot be easily discharged even in bankruptcy.

We've called it a ball and chain, but....

Even as legal hiring dropped in 2011, according to Procel, Thomas Jefferson stated that 92.1 percent of its graduates were working at full-time jobs. That was a major increase from the 83 percent graduate employment the school claimed during the prosperous years of 2006 and 2007. But even in 2006, according to testimony expected at trial, a former school employee says she was pressured into inflating graduate employment data.

Thomas Jefferson’s lawyers will argue that Alaburda never incurred any actual injury, because she was offeredand turned down — a law firm job with a $60,000 salary shortly after she graduated.

Di.... smissed!

Alaburda said, in legal papers, that she received “only one job offer — one which was less favorable than nonlaw related jobs that were available” — after she sent her résumé to more than 150 law firms and practicing lawyers. She is seeking $125,000 in damages.

I don't want to hear the complaint, sorry.


Just wait until you try filing for bankruptcy:

"Bankrupt Duxbury dad battles to get student loan debt forgiven" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  March 14, 2016

Robert E. Murphy lost his job nearly 16 years ago and says he hasn’t been able to find a new one.

Did he lose it or was it taken from him? No small difference there.

Now 65, he has already depleted his retirement savings, which has left him and his wife largely dependent on her $13,200 yearly salary as a teacher’s aide. And a bank is trying to foreclose on their Duxbury home.

Based on these facts, Murphy might seem a sympathetic petitioner for relief from the more than $246,000 he still owes on student loans he borrowed to send his three children to college. But a federal bankruptcy judge denied Murphy’s request, ruling that he has not proven that paying the debt would present an undue hardship.

His case, now pending before the US First Circuit Court of Appeals, is being closely watched across the country because it challenges the standard many courts use to determine when the burden of repaying student loans is too much and comes as more people are turning to the courts for relief.

“If this doesn’t constitute undue hardship, what would?” one of the appeals court judges asked last December during oral arguments in Murphy’s case.

The appeals court postponed a decision on whether to overturn the bankruptcy court’s denial of Murphy’s request to discharge his debt. The panel urged Murphy and Educational Credit Management Corp., a Minnesota company hired by the government to fight Murphy’s bankruptcy complaint, to try to reach a settlement. A report on their progress is due by the end of the month.

The bankruptcy judge found that Murphy might find a job because he is healthy and well-educated, yet commiserated with his situation.

“You’ve raised a case that I think we’ll see a lot of in this court in the next few years, and, that is, people who got to the peak of their career in a way, lost their jobs, and incurred debt to educate their children, and . . . are going to have a hard time in this market,” US Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Bailey told Murphy during a 2013 hearing, adding, “I’m darn near in that situation myself.”

John Rao, of the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center, said in an interview, “We are starting to see more of these cases where people are asking to have loans discharged in bankruptcy. . . . People have paid more than the principal borrowed and still owe three or four times that because of the way fees and interests are calculated.”

Looks like USURY to me.

(Most Americans wonder what's that when you use that word, and that is no coincidence. Same thing when you say Zionism to them. They have not a clue)

Murphy took out a dozen Parent Plus loans between 2001 and 2007, with original principal of $220,765, plus interest, to send two of his children to Loyola University Maryland and a third to the University of Connecticut and Bridgewater State University. The children, who took out their own loans for undergraduate and graduate study, are not legally responsible for Murphy’s debts. 

In other words, he did what we are told was the right thing by his kids. 

Not Harvard or Yale there, but good schools.

Murphy, who earned a master’s degree in business administration at Babson College, was earning $165,000 a year as president of a Canton manufacturing company when it moved overseas in 2002.


He testified that he launched an exhaustive job search and blamed his inability to find work on his advanced age, a failing economy, and the loss of manufacturing jobs.

There are a few other factors involved, even if excuses are shoveled like horse bleep (maybe they are looking in the wrong places, 'eh).

After depleting his retirement savings to pay bills — including more than $61,000 toward the student loan debt — he still owed $246,539 when he filed his bankruptcy complaint in 2012.

Congress made it difficult to erase student loan debt in 1978 by requiring proof that repaying was an undue hardship but left it to the courts to define hardship.

How much more proof do you need that they work for banking and corporate interests despite all the public relations and political show foolers from the pre$$, kids?

Rao contends that most courts are too strict when assessing hardship and require borrowers to show extraordinary circumstances, such as a serious illness, psychiatric problem, or permanent disability.

In a brief filed in support of Murphy by the law center and the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Rao urged the appeals court to take a fresh look at what constitutes hardship, arguing that many of today’s borrowers “have already been burdened by the obligations for decades and, if denied a discharge, face a lifetime of crushing debt.”

The $y$tem works!

The US Department of Education said in court filings that the fiscal integrity of the federal education loan program requires people to repay debts unless they are in “the most dire circumstances” and can show they can’t make payments now or in the future.

No bank bailout for you "kids!" 

And the GALL of this BANKRUPT GOVERNMENT and EMPIRE arguing fiscal integrity.

That's why they are grubbing for all the money they can grab!

The nation’s student loan debt currently exceeds $1.2 trillion and, according to statistics released by the government last fall, the percentage of students defaulting on loans within three years of beginning repayment was 11.8 percent. Those who default may have their wages or Social Security checks garnished.

Youth are so $crewed.

The department has been steering those who have difficulty paying into income-based repayment plans, which may require minimal or no monthly payments. The remainder of the debt is canceled after 25 years.

Critics say the program might benefit those who temporarily can’t pay but is detrimental to those who cannot pay over the long term. Interest is added to the debt during nonpayment periods, and borrowers may face a tax liability after the debt is canceled.

We used to say they have you coming and going.

Murphy, who initially represented himself and was appointed a lawyer pro bono by the appeals court, declined to comment on his case.

Parent Plus loans are not eligible for the income-based repayment plan. But, Murphy testified that after he filed his bankruptcy claim, he was advised he would qualify if he consolidated his loans under the Department of Education’s William D. Ford program. Based on his current situation, his monthly payments would be $0.

Murphy said he declined because he estimated that his debt would grow from $247,000 to more than $500,000 over 15 years, as interest accrued, and he could face a potential tax penalty of $10,000 when his debt was forgiven.

Lawyers for Educational Credit Management Corp. disputed Murphy’s calculations.

Most courts rely on one of two tests when defining hardship. The Brunner test, which is most common, was established in a 1987 case involving a New York woman who tried to erase her college debt two months after graduating.

It requires a borrower to show that he can’t maintain a minimal standard of living for himself and his dependents if forced to repay the loan, additional circumstances make it unlikely he’ll be able to pay in the future, and he has made a good faith effort to pay the debt.

Some courts have gone further, requiring that borrowers have a “certainty of hopelessness” or suffer total incapacity. 

That is what reading the Bo$ton Globe has become. 

It comes with the worthle$$ne$$ of it.

The second test used by courts, which is similar, is called the “totality of the circumstances” test. It considers a debtor’s past, present, and future financial resources, living expenses, and any other facts and relevant circumstances surrounding each particular bankruptcy case.

Others burdened by student debt have won in court. In December, a bankruptcy judge discharged nearly $50,000 in student loan debt owed by a Fall River couple — the woman is legally blind and her husband is disabled.

In 2014, a Methuen man who was permanently disabled and a Chelsea woman who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer had their student loan debts discharged by a bankruptcy judge.

Another case that was brought by a Groton couple and closely resembled Murphy’s was dismissed by a bankruptcy judge last year after a settlement was reached. The couple, who borrowed Parent Plus loans totalling $263,756 in principal to send their three children to college and still owed $337,479 — despite paying $98,000 toward the debt — agreed to enter an income-based repayment plan.


It's a gamble at best....

"Falling lottery sales pinch college scholarships in 8 states" by Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press  March 03, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE — The ticket-buying frenzy that erupted over January’s $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot wasn’t enough to reverse a long-running trend: Proceeds from lottery games aren’t keeping pace with the higher education costs they were supposed to pay.

Now lawmakers in at least eight states have made or are considering making dramatic cuts to scholarship programs funded by lotteries.

College administrators and students alike are bracing for a blow if more money isn’t found.

Seriously, WhereTF has all the goddamn money gone all these years of economic recovery and rising lottery sales (we were told).

‘‘This would force students to pay about $1,700 more out of their pockets annually, and most likely it would mean borrowing more in student loans,’’ said Terry Babbitt, an associate vice president at the university.

And who benefits again?

New Mexico has one of the nation’s most generous programs, paying more than 90 percent of tuition for eligible students. Without any new money, the benefit will have to be reduced to about 60 percent, according to the state Department of Higher Education.

The problem begins with declining ticket sales. When a state establishes a lottery, excitement typically builds and consumers rush to buy tickets. As the games mature, sales level off. After 20 years, New Mexico’s lottery sales have plateaued, as have sales for multistate games like Powerball.

Can you believe the excuses these guys shovel? Piles filled with contradictions and mixed me$$ages as if we have no memory of such stinks!

Changing spending habits play a role too. Millennial consumers, according to some experts, are moving away from lotteries. And many Americans never go inside a convenience store to buy gas anymore, choosing instead to swipe a credit card at the pump. That means fewer opportunities to sell lotto tickets.

Uh-oh, blah, blah, blah. 

The kids like fantasy sports and freemium games now.

The rising cost of tuition and tight state budgets add to the strain.

Affected states have been forced to make painful changes in recent years, tightening eligibility requirements or reducing the amount of aid a student receives.... 

Yeah, too many debt interest payments, corporate welfare, and lavish political lifestyles need to be maintained first.


You got a problem with that?

"Plainridge yet to adopt method to curb problem gambling" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  March 07, 2016

PLAINVILLE — Eight months after it opened, the state’s first casino has not adopted a system designed to curb problem gambling, undercutting a key provision in the state’s casino law.

Isn't that a violation of the law? 

Maybe they kick off part of the pot as a fine, 'eh?

The state Gaming Commission unanimously approved the “play management” system in late 2014, saying it would help minimize the impacts of problem gambling.

Keeping casinos out would have been a good start.

The system would allow gamblers to set limits on how much they play — and lose — on their loyalty cards, and would flash warnings as gamblers approach preset loss limits. Gamblers would have to acknowledge the warning, but then would be able to continue to play.

At the time, Stephen Crosby, the commission chairman, touted the system as the first of its kind in the United States, and a potential breakthrough in dealing with gambling’s social ills.

The system also helped the state’s first casino — Plainridge Park Casino, a slot parlor in Plainville — meet the requirements of the state’s 2011 law that any negative consequences of gambling be minimized, but “What’s the job of a casino? To make as much money as possible,” said Paul DeBole, a Lasell College professor who has studied New England’s gambling industry. “Setting limits on gambling isn’t necessarily the highest priority, at least not when a casino first opens.”

Crosby blamed the delay on the difficulty in designing a system that gamblers will be willing to use.

“How do you get people to use it without feeling embarrassed?” Crosby asked. “And it has to be user-friendly.”

The delay in implementing a play management system comes amid disappointing revenue figures for the slot parlor. Initial projections estimated Plainridge would bring in as much as $300 million in its opening year, but after seven months it is on pace to collect just $162 million....


Their luck has changed!

"Plainridge gambling revenue shoots up by $1.3m in January" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  February 16, 2016

Gambling revenue at Plainridge Park Casino shot up by $1.3 million in January, snapping a five-month skid and pumping up expectations for a strong spring.

Plainridge brought in $12.5 million last month, a 12 percent increase over December and the highest monthly total since October’s $12.9 million, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Gaming Commission.

The state’s first casino, Plainridge still has an uphill climb to meet initial revenue projections that it would bring in as much as $300 million in its opening year.

Go all in!

In its first seven months, the Plainville slot parlor took in $94.4 million in revenue, which puts it on pace to collect $162 million for the year.

But casino specialists said there is reason to be optimistic that Plainridge will exceed its current monthly draw of $13.5 million. Historically, business at casinos picks up as winter winds down, and casinos often have some of their best months in the spring.

It's the gamblers mentality, and I know it well.

“This is very encouraging for Plainridge,” said Paul DeBole, a Lasell College professor who has studied gambling in New England. “To throw the brakes on a downward slide is impressive.”

December is typically one of the worst months for casinos because many people are focused on getting ready for the holidays and spending time with family, DeBole said. But January is usually a down month too, he said, making Plainridge’s double-digit gain all the more impressive.

Casinos often see a bump in business in February, when people get tired of staying at home, he said.

I'm tired of something all right.

“For Plainridge to get the bump early, in January, that could be a good sign,” he said.

Clyde Barrow, a University of Texas professor who also studies gambling, characterized Plainridge’s performance as “not spectacular, not a disaster.”

He said he expects the slot parlor to pull down about $160 million in its first year. But Plainridge’s revenue will likely decline within three years when much larger resort casinos are scheduled to open in Massachusetts.

“Those other casinos will chip away at Plainridge’s revenue,” he said.

Lance George, Plainridge’s general manager, said business at a newly opened casino is too unpredictable to draw conclusions about long-term revenue trends.

“January revenues for Plainridge Park Casino are a good example of what we have previously suggested, which is that activity ebbs and flows after a new facility is opened and that it will be some time before that pattern evens out,” George said in a statement.

The Gaming Commission said it was pleased by the increase, but added that “it is important to take a long term view beyond that of monthly indicators when considering the benefits of gaming to the Commonwealth.”


Win some, lose some, I always say. 

As for the fight against casinos, I will be putting that on hold -- indefinitely

I (and others) have apparently made peace with it.


Mashpee tribe speeds up timetable for Taunton casino opening

Lawyers seek to bar unflattering evidence in Lightbody case

Further cards dealt:

Plainridge slot parlor revenue climbs for second straight month

Mashpee tribe picks operator for planned Taunton casino

The media event was a classic Steve Wynn performance.

What a saint!

Here is your hole card:

Wynn halts cleanup of casino site over Somerville appeal

State faces risky bet for third casino license

So what's your bet?