Students Say L-3 Bilked Them at Pricey School

FORT WORTH (CN) – Dozens of students say an air traffic control academy owned by L-3 Communications, a major military contractor, lured them to enroll, and pay $41,000 apiece in tuition, with false promises that the first 100 students to graduate would be hired by the FAA.




     Thirty-two students sued L-3 Communications dba L-3 Link Simulation & Training Air Traffic Control Academy in Tarrant County Court. They also sued Robert “Scott” James, Dale Raatz, and Jim Christy, who allegedly began recruiting students for the school before classes began in January 2009.
     The students say they joined the academy after the defendants promised them “jobs with the FAA upon graduation.” They were not just promised “offers of placement help,” but were “guaranteed … that the first 100 graduates would be hired by the FAA,” the complaint states.
     Academy officials also told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a Feb. 9, 2009 article that “an agreement had been made with the FAA to hire the first 100 academy graduates,” the complaint states.
     The students say the defendants had the brass to say “that a mobile unit would be present at the academy on graduation day to hand out FAA job assignments.”
     The complaint continues: “Plaintiffs each relied on these promises and agreed to pay $41,000 in tuition to attend the academy. To date, not a single student has received a job offer as promised. In fact, plaintiffs have learned that the FAA never made the agreement represented by defendants.”
     The students add that they “have learned that their training received at the academy is insufficient, by itself, to even qualify them to work in a FAA air traffic control tower.”
     It’s not the first complaint of fishy business at L-3.
     Reuters reported in October 2010 that in July that year, L-3 Communications paid a $330,000 settlement to the U.S. Air Force after an L-3 employee set up an email system that copied unclassified government emails to a database. The U.S. Air Force was reviewing new allegations that L-3 was using the emails to win new government work, according to the Reuters report.
     “The allegations could be a blow to L-3, which viewed the matter as largely settled after the U.S. Air Force lifted a suspension on the company this summer,” Reuters reported.
     “The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said it was too soon to predict the outcome of the investigation by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which is likely to continue for months.
     “If the new allegations are proven true, the Air Force could reinstate its suspension of the L-3 business unit, and the company could face additional fines, analysts say.”
     The 32 students seek punitive damages for fraud, negligence, and mental anguish.
     At $41,000 apiece, they paid a total of $1.3 million in tuition. They are represented by Greg Jackson.
     According to L-3’s company website: “Headquartered in New York City, L-3 employs over 62,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in C3ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems, aircraft modernization and maintenance, and government services. L-3 is also a leading provider of a broad range of electronic systems used on military and commercial platforms. The company reported 2010 sales of $15.7 billion.”

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