Resolving the Huntington Learning Center Litigation

Huntington Learning Center is a troubled educational institution that has been the target of a class-action lawsuit. Joe Lieberman is currently suing Huntington Learning Centers and other executives, Dr. Ray Huntington, Anne Huntington (vice-chancellor), Jim Emmerson, Eileen Huntington and Dr. Joseph V. DeJarnette, III. in the lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Lieberman contends that Huntington uses deception, fraud and dishonesty to sell an unproven franchise opportunity to unsuspecting individuals. His lawyers assert that the defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and engaged in a scheme to illegally take collect on monies owed to them by customers.

Resolving the Huntington Learning Center Lawsuit

The lawsuit comes at a time when the spotlight has been focused on franchises aimed at helping people improve their lives. A prospective franchisee in this case may have been looking for a way to start a home based business and meet their financial obligations. In this case, the suit says, a lawyer representing the school failed to tell the man that he would need to pay thousands of dollars as upfront fees to open the business and that there would be no guarantee that the venture would be successful.

Later, when the prospective franchisee went to register his business at a bank, the bank informed him that there was no guarantee that the venture would succeed. This, according to the complaint, was evidence of a scheme by the defendants to extract money from the franchisee.

Another aspect of the suit says that an online tutor provided to a student in the Huntington learning center was improperly removed from her home by her mother.

The tutor had been paid in advance for her services and had signed a contract with the center that said she would be available to students in need of her services who were in the class of the tutor. When the tutor was removed from her home, the Huntingtons say that they never received payment for the service. Their attorney says that this is proof that the defendants used the online tutoring service to defraud them.

Other alleged actions by the defendants in this case include failing to make educational services a priority for the business when it was opened, providing inappropriate educational services, instructing students in the wrong subjects, failing to train staff in core business skills and failing to provide quality education.

In addition to these aspects of the lawsuit, the attorneys say that they cannot find any other evidence that the business and its owner acted out of bad motives. According to the attorneys, they will seek to have the case heard by the court on its merits. If the plaintiffs are granted summary judgment, the defendants could be ordered to reimburse the losses they have caused the plaintiffs, including the costs of their legal representation and the expenses they have incurred.

On the other side of the issue, the defendants counter that they did not violate any laws or franchising regulations by accepting a franchise loan from the Huntington learning center and that they had every right to do so.

Their argument goes that the plaintiffs are seeking damages only in an effort to unjustly penalize the franchisees. The defendants also say that they will continue to operate their businesses according to the rules and policies that they set forth in their own franchise contracts. Franchisee lawsuits such as this one, they said, are a waste of time and money for both sides. The franchisee, they said, does not have the same rights to litigate in franchising disputes as other franchisees have. They add that it is usually best for the franchisor to settle the matter in order to avoid a default judgment against them in a lawsuit filed by the franchisee.

There are some issues that the two sides need to resolve before reaching a settlement.

For instance, if the HLC has proof that the defendant violated franchise laws, the plaintiff’s claims must be brought within three years of the date of the violation. Also, the former franchise owner must be able to prove that he or she was personally injured or suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s violation. The HLC will make these determinations after it reviews the complaints that have been filed in this case.

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