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In law school, professors typically teach causation as part of torts in the first year.
It's not an especially difficult concept -- compared to the law against perpetuities -- but it can trip up even seasoned litigators. Sometimes the light only goes on after a third amended complaint when a case is dismissed.
A former professor and a student at Charlotte School of Law should know something about causation, and so they have sued the American Bar Association for their problems at the law school. If Rube Goldberg rules apply, they may have a case.
In United States of America v. Infilaw Corporation, Charlotte graduate Ese Love and former professor Barbara Bernier say the ABA "knew or should have known" the school was not complying with accreditation standards. The law school closed last year after the ABA suspended accreditation and the federal government pulled student loans.
A little history first: Infilaw, a for-profit corporation organized in 2006, ran Charlotte and two other law schools. They struggled to get and keep accreditation, and Infilaw soon became the poster child for the Atlantic's "law school scam."
In the Charlotte lawsuit, the plaintiffs say the "ABA's imprimatur misled" students and teachers into a bad situation. "The ABA, in failing to enforce and ensure that CSOL was in compliance with the Standards, failed to act as a reasonable accreditor," the second amended complaint says.
Bernier filed in 2016 under the False Claims Act, but the government declined to intevene. Two amended complaints later, Love wants relief for more than $350,000 in student debt and Bernier for leaving a tenured position at another law school.
According to the complaint, Infilaw's principal partner is Sterling Partners with a $4 billion portfolio. Following the money, the plaintiffs say Infilaw recruited "high-level" ABA leaders and "bought" legitimacy.
Dennis Archer, for example, had duties for accrediting and reviewing Charlotte. "Archer, at all times material, also sat on the Board of Infilaw while conducting such duties, and currently sits on the Board of Infilaw," the complaint says.
The plaintiffs don't spell out "conspiracy," but it is a good read about the underbelly of legal education. They just say the ABA was the direct and proximate cause of their damages because the association should have protected them.
But Infilaw looks like the real bad guy in this movie. Not to spoil anything, but even Dr. Strange saw only one possible reality in 14,000,605 Avenger scenarios.