This last Monday, November 9th, on behalf of the pre-acquisition graduates of Texas A&M School of Law, we filed the First Amended Complaint in the case against Texas Wesleyan University and Texas A&M University, along with objections to the motions to dismiss filed by TWU and A&M, and a motion to certify all of the ~3700 graduates as a class. We added Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University System, and the Board of Regents as defendants. I’ve put links to all the pertinent documents below.
Judge McBryde denied the motions to dismiss filed by TWU and A&M immediately upon receipt of our amended complaint, making the reasonable assumption that they will want to file new motions to dismiss addressing the new-and-improved version of the complaint.
Texas Wesleyan University and A&M School of Law are arguing that the schools owe nothing to the pre-acquisition alumni, pointing to case law where various court cases where the alumni lost on one issue or another. Their case law that is not really on point, however, but it is true that the outer contours of the responsibilities of an educational institution to its alumni are not well-defined. Not a lot of young people ask for a contract from the recruiters stating that the university will not take $60M+ for the academic department from which they graduate and then be mostly useless once you’ve graduated. No, most recruiters say very much the opposite.
The bigger issue is that, of course, this is not the normal case. Among other promises, the acquisition of the law school from TWU to A&M was approved based on TWU’s and A&M’s multiple statements in the approval packages sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Bar Association. One of those statements was the name of the school was going to be “Texas A&M School of Law at Texas Wesleyan University.” There are others, but generally speaking, TWU and TAMU both stated publicly that it cared about keeping the alumni involved and wanted the alumni happy with the process. At no point did anyone say, “Hey, as soon as we’ve purchased the law school, we’re going to claim the law school’s long history in the ABA listing and claim we were founded in 1994 (ABA listing of law schools), but at other times, we are going to say that we were founded in 2013 (Texas Bar Journal, Nov. 2015).
The alumni were active in the acquisition process and discussion. They could have opposed the acquisition, but did not, based on the reassuring promises made to the alumni during the process. That reliance makes the promises of TWU and A&M more substantial than what is found in the cases that TAMU and A&M cite in their motions to dismiss.
Of course, that does not mean that the plaintiffs will win, but it should give those who want to cavalierly dismiss the dispute as trivial.
We fully expect another two motions to dismiss, and then we’ll have to determine if we can or should attempt to amend again, if they come up with new arguments and we think we are missing something.
As always, we welcome supporters to read through the sizeable documents and offer feedback.
Warren V. Norred