Bauer v. DeVos and CAPPS v. DeVos


Who is involved in this case?

The Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen represent Meaghan Bauer and Stephano Del Rose, former students of New England Institute of Art, a predatory for-profit college owned by Education Management Corporation (EDMC). Ms. Bauer and Mr. Del Rose moved to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the for-profit college industry group CAPPS against the Department of Education. Ms. Bauer and Mr. Del Rose subsequently filed a separate case against the Department of Education.


What is this case about?

The Education Department finalized a Borrower Defense Rule in 2016 prohibiting schools that receive federal funds from relying on forced arbitration agreements with their students. Forced arbitration agreements require students to submit any dispute that might later arise between the students and the institution to binding arbitration instead of a court of law. Binding arbitration is a private process with little right to appeal. Students typically cannot band together to bring joint claims in arbitration, and they often are forbidden from publicly discussing the arbitration process.


CAPPS sued the Education Department to try to block the 2016 rule. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the Department of Education announced it would delay key parts of the rule until the litigation is over and begin a new rulemaking session to reconsider the rule entirely. The Project brought this case to court to stop the illegal delay and enact the 2016 borrower defense rule.


Where is this case filed?

This case was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.


When was case filed?

On June 15, 2017, Meaghan Bauer and Stephano Del Rose moved to intervene in the CAPPS lawsuit. On July 6, 2017, Bauer and Del Rose filed their own lawsuit against the Department of Education.

“This turned out to be a lie,” said Del Rose, who graduated from NEIA in 2014. “The equipment was outdated, the career services office wasn’t helpful, and I ended up working at Walgreens, just like I did before graduation.”

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“While students should have protections from predatory practices, schools and taxpayers should also be treated fairly as well. Under the previous rules, all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”


Why this Case?

For-profit colleges use forced arbitration agreements to strip students of their legal rights. Without access to the courts, students are not able to hold schools accountable for their illegal activity. By refusing to implement this rule, the Department of Education prevents students from taking the measures necessary to protect themselves against predatory institutions.

Case Outcome

In a victory for student borrowers, and another massive rebuke to Betsy DeVos, a court ruled in September 2018 that the Department of Education’s delays in implementing the 2016 Borrower Defense Rule were illegal. The ruling establishes that all three of the actions the Department took to thwart the 2016 borrower defense rule were illegal, and that the Department failed to weigh the harm that its delay imposed on student borrowers. The court also found that Department offered a plainly inadequate justification for changing its mind just months after it concluded in 2016 that the use of forced arbitration by schools was a risk to the integrity of the federal student loan program and unfair to borrowers.

Case Updates

Update | LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen Sue to Stop Education Department’s Illegal Regulatory Delay

The U.S. Department of Education broke the law when it announced a delay of a rule designed to protect students defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and career training programs, two borrowers said in a lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Update | Judge Rules for Project’s Clients; Strikes Down Department of Education Illegal Delay of 2016 Borrower Defense Rule

In another major rebuke to DeVos, the Project wins Bauer v. DeVos case Judge rules that the Department of Education’s delays in implementing 2016 borrower defense rule were illegal and caused serious harm to borrowers   In a victory for student borrowers, and another massive rebuke to Betsy DeVos, a court this week ruled that…

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Memorandum Opinion and Order

On September 12, 2018, the court granted the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and ordered all parties appear for a status conference on September 14, 2018.


States Amicus Brief

On October 02, 2018, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, New York, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Maryland, and the District of Columbia filed a brief of Amici opposing the renewed motion for preliminary injunction.


Memorandum and Opinion

On October 16, 2018, the court denied CAPPS' motion for a preliminary injunction.


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