October 09, 2014 Articles

Identifying and Defending a Claim for Educational Malpractice

By Donald F. Winningham III

In the years following America’s financial crisis, more and more Americans are looking to higher education, whether in the form of traditional degrees or career training, to try to improve their employability. Though many of those who have obtained additional education and training have successfully parlayed such skills into new jobs, many others have failed for a variety of reasons to secure the new job they were hoping for when they enrolled (or re-enrolled) for additional education. The present state of the economy and job market could lead, and has led, to the initiation of litigation by disgruntled or unhappy students seeking redress for their inability to find work or for an alleged defect in the education and/or training they received. In addition, there have been attempts by some individuals to pursue claims against educational institutions for damages they claim were indirectly caused by the institution, through either faulty education or faulty training. Though usually couched as claims for fraud, negligence, or breach of contract, almost all such claims constitute “educational malpractice”—a claim virtually universally rejected by American courts. See, e.g., Dallas Airmotive, Inc. v. FlightSafety Int’l, Inc., 277 S.W.3d 696, 699 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008) (“Missouri, along with most other jurisdictions that have considered the issue, has found that educational malpractice claims are not cognizable because there is no duty.”); Papaspiridakos v. Educ. Affiliates, Inc., 2013 WL 4899136, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2013); Page v. Klein Tools, Inc., 610 N.W.2d 900, 905 (Mich. 2000).

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