Click Fraud Protection Firm Secures Major Legal Victory in RICO Claims Against Grand Canyon University - Tycko & Zavareei LLP
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Firm Secures Major Legal Victory in RICO Claims Against Grand Canyon University

Date Published
Apr 03, 2024

March 29, 2024. In a decisive legal turnaround, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona has granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the plaintiff in the case of Katie Ogdon v. Grand Canyon University, et al. This ruling reinstates the substantial federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act claims that were previously dismissed, allowing the nationwide claims in the case to proceed.

The case, originally filed in the Eastern District of California in 2020, encountered a significant procedural delay, eventually being transferred to Arizona in 2022. After additional briefing and a waiting period, the presiding judge dismissed the central RICO claims, leaving only California state law claims in play. Plaintiff’s counsel sought reconsideration of that decision, and the Court’s decision to reverse itself reaffirms the strength and validity of plaintiff Katie Ogdon’s accusations.

Ms. Ogdon’s case against Grand Canyon University (“GCU”), Grand Canyon Education Inc. (“GCE”), and three corporate officers alleges a systematic effort to deceive students through misrepresentations about certain graduate degree programs and their suitability for licensure in professional fields. Specifically, the defendants are accused of advertising online professional degree programs to students in states where those programs are not professionally accreditation and do not meet licensure standards, causing material harm to graduate students seeking employment in regulated professions such as mental health counselling and education.

The ruling acknowledges that Ms. Ogdon’s First Amended Complaint plausibly pled facts indicating that each Defendant knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud, participated in the scheme with the intent to defraud, and their acts occurred during their participation in the scheme and were within the scope of the scheme.

“We applaud the court’s decision to reinstate the RICO claims, allowing our client to seek treble damages on behalf of a nationwide class,” said Kristen Simplicio, plaintiff’s counsel and partner at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. “As universities increasingly are going online and enrolling students around the country, RICO’s nationwide reach is an important mechanism for students to use to hold such institutions accountable for misleading advertising.”

The case comes at a time when Grand Canyon University is embroiled in other disputes with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Education over its advertising and disclosures to students.

The case is Katie Ogdon v. Grand Canyon University, et al., Case No.: CV-22-00477-PHX-DLR in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

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