(CN) – Bar exam software provider Examsoft Worldwide Inc. will pay $2.1 million to settle class-action claims a glitch in its technology caused scores of prospective lawyers to fail the multiday test last year.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro gave her preliminary approval to the proposed settlement on May 12. A hearing on the agreement’s final approval has been scheduled for Oct. 9, 2015.
A problem with the exam was evident almost immediately last summer as scores of law graduates complained they were unable to file their completed first-day tests on the July 2014 bar exam. electronically.
Examsoft said at the time that the problem was a processing issues, and that the integrity of the exam had not been effected. But the glitch appeared to lead to a marked declined both in the number of people who passed the test and the grades of those that did – leading initially to a debate over the quality of legal education and even the students themselves.
Several lawsuits followed and were ultimately combined into the class action.
As previously reported by Courthouse News, the first day of the exam, July 29, consisted of a series of essay questions that take approximately six hours.
To type the essays with a computer, rather than writing them longhand, test takers paid a fee ranging from $100 to $150 fee for ExamSoft’s test-taking software.
The software allowed test-takers to use their own laptops by turning off all other features of the computer, such as the ability to access notes or use the Internet. At the end of the testing period, it required test takers to upload their essays to a server without any further changes.
But “ExamSoft was inexplicably unprepared for the volume of bar exams being uploaded to its servers following the first day of the July 2014 test,” according to a typical complaint, filed in Cook County, Illinois in August 2014.
“As a result, it could not confirm that test-takers’ typed exams had been properly and timely submitted. This on the eve of the second day of the bar exam (the multistate exam). Instead of relaxing, doing a last minute review, or going to bed early, many bar applicants were stuck dealing with ExamSoft’s technical glitch on the night before the second day of the most important exam of their lives,” the lawsuit stated.
Many people who tried to upload their exam were met with the error message, “Attention! Your answer file(s) did not upload,” and spent the whole night frantically trying to contact ExamSoft’s customer service, only to be met with a busy signal, the court documents said.
Many of those who sued the company sought refunds of the fees they paid for the software. Under the proposed settlement, members of the class should receive a refund of about $90.
Representatives for Examsoft Worldwide could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning.
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