Jury Whacks Chain College for $13 Million

     KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) – A state jury in Missouri awarded $13 million to a woman who claimed Vatterott College, a chain school, deceived her during enrollment.
     Jennifer Kerr, 42, of Belton, Mo., told a Jackson County jury she relied on Vatterott’s representations and spent thousands of dollars for a degree that proved to be worthless.
     Kerr said she enrolled in Vatterott in 2009 with plans to become a nurse. Though Vatterott does not offer a nursing program, she said a representative told her she could enroll in its medical assistant program, which would help her become a nurse.
     But after spending $27,000 in loans and spending 60 weeks in the program, Kerr claimed, she was told she actually had been enrolled in a medical office assistant’s program. To get the medical assistant’s degree, she would need to take a total of 90 weeks and spend at least $10,000 more.
     The jury ordered Vatterott to pay $27,676 in actual damages and $13 million in punitive damages.
     The award surely will be appealed, as it exceeds the cap allowed under Missouri law, which is the greater of $500,000 or five times actual damages, plus costs.
     Kerr’s attorney told the Kansas City Star that he asked for $2 million to $4 million in punitive damages, but the jury came back with $13 million.
     St. Louis-based Vatterott has 19 campuses in nine states, according to its website. Vatterott officials defended the company’s actions in a statement to the Star.
     “We are confident at Vatterott that our systems and admission processes are handled professionally,” the statement said. “Our mission is to transform and better the lives of our students through quality, career education. We are proud of this mission and will continue to pursue it with professionalism and integrity.”

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