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Everest College Says Attorney Defamed School

DALLAS (CN) - The operators of for-profit Everest College claim a Dallas attorney defamed the school by accusing it of "education fraud" and paid a recruiter to solicit students' business by handing out her business cards as they left class.

Rhodes Colleges accused attorney Julie Johnson of "luring students with enticing and false promises of tuition recovery and other cash rewards based on the false claims a) that she has represented 'hundreds of students' against the school and b) that she made such recoveries from the school."

The complaint in Dallas County Court continues: "In fact, when these claims were made, Johnson had never sued the school, never represented even a single student in a single lawsuit against the school, never made any recovery from the school and had never even spoken to the school. There is rich irony when attorneys claiming their practice protects consumers from false and deceptive trade practices engage in that very behavior to attract - and profit from - those very same consumers, hoodwinking them into becoming clients. That irony becomes actionable when the law firm and individual attorneys' actions cross the line into libel and fraud. Such is the case with Van Wey & Johnson and its principals (collectively 'Johnson'). In promoting themselves through deceitful falsehoods about their own practice and experience and baseless internet claims of deception and fraud against well-meaning schools, Johnson has resorted to malicious, actionable conduct.

"Such libelous action is nothing less than an exploitation of students to extort schools - Johnson sued three schools in a three-week period - for Johnson's benefit."

The college also accuses Johnson of defaming it on her Web site, stating Everest College falsely promises students certification in their chosen field upon graduation, among other things.

Rhodes claims it has never informed students that they "will have certification" in their chosen field immediately after graduation.

"Johnson also engaged recruiters to actively solicit unsuspecting students directly from the campuses," the complaint states. "Johnson paid a recruiter to stand just off of School property and to pass out business cards and materials to students leaving class."

The complaint adds: "As any ethical attorney knows, such solicitation and contact violate Texas' rules of ethics."

Everest College operates three campuses in the Dallas area, according to the complaint.

Also named as defendants are Kay Van Wey, the Law Office of Julie Johnson PLLC, Van Wey & Johnson LLP and Van Wey Law PLLC.

Rhodes Colleges dba Everest College is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif.

It seeks damages for libel, business disparagement and tortious interference. It is represented by Robert Prather with Snell Wylie & Tibbals of Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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