The second time was the charm for a settlement in a class action alleging that law school students paid too much for BAR/BRI bar review preparatory course materials after West Publishing Corp. and Kaplan Inc. conspired to monopolize the market.
A fresh agreement provides for a payment of $9.5 million in cash. Lawyers told U.S. District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles, who rejected a previous settlement in 2011, that they would file documents by today seeking preliminary approval of the new deal. Real scheduled a hearing for April 15.
The case, filed on Feb. 6, 2008, is distinct from a $49 million class settlement against West and Kaplan Inc. that Real approved in 2007. That case, filed in 2005, involved a class of 300,000 students who claimed they were overcharged for the Law School Admission Test preparatory course after West and Kaplan conspired to monopolize the market in violation of the Sherman Act. Under that settlement, which involved purchases from 1997 and 2006, each student was to receive $125.
The newer case, filed on behalf of two law school graduates who alleged they overpaid for their courses and three law students who expected to take the bar exam in 2008 and 2009, involves those who purchased the courses as of Aug. 1, 2006.
Real preliminarily approved a deal on March 21, 2011, but rejected it after objectors raised concerns that Kaplan's portion of the deal involved coupons. Under the initial deal, West would have paid $5.29 million and Kaplan would have provided certificates worth $150 toward the purchase of course materials.
Real sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit. On Nov. 7, 2011, that court reversed his dismissal order and referred the case to mediation. On Jan. 14, lawyers in the case told the Ninth Circuit they had reached a new settlement, which they outlined in court documents on March 7.