Thomas Bentey v. St. Thomas University Law School update

by Ted Frank on May 28, 2008

We wrote about this lawsuit when it was first filed in 2006, and were curious what was up with it. Bentey flunked St. Thomas U Law School; he then retained an attorney, Michael Lombardi, to sue numerous defendants alleging that it was consumer fraud for St. Thomas to admit him in the first place and seeking an injunction over Bentey’s contracts grade, suggesting a second person who should’ve flunked law school. The case was transferred from New Jersey to the Southern District of Florida in December 2006, and the multiple defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss in March 2007. The parties then apparently agreed that Bentey would voluntarily dismiss his case in April 2007; the terms of the settlement were not publicly discussed, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t simply a walk-away.

A Thomas Bentey who lives in New Jersey has a public Facebook page, though we make no representation that it’s the same Thomas Bentey.

{ 3 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 05.28.08 at 9:07 pm

If he had only followed the advice of Groucho Marx he would have save everyone a lot of trouble.

2 Ray G 05.28.08 at 11:14 pm

Can you imagine if the school had tried to protect him by telling him of his stupidity in the first place? It seems he could have made a suit out of that if he can bring this thing to bear.

3 Clarence D 07.19.08 at 6:43 pm

I think St Thomas and many other fourth tier law schools were more anxious to see this one disappear than you admit.
I’m reminded of an episode of Family Guy when James Woods High School regains its NCLB funding by expelling Chris Griffin to improve its test average.
The plight of fourth tier law schools is interesting. They are unattractive to top students, have low bar passage rates (50-60% in some cases), and lack the financial resources to improve. So what do many do? Admit large numbers of students to create a revenue base that is used to lure better students w/scholarships and prevent transfers, and attrition as many as 25% (national average for all ABA schools is around 5% for academic reasons)of their students to improve their bar passage rate. This is accomplished through aggressivly curved grading that ensures 15-25% of every class, regardless of achievement, will received a grade of C- or below. Consider a law school w/200 students with 100 passing the bar. That school could cut the bottom 50 students (25%), and possibly raise its bar passage rate as high as 66% without doing anything to actually improve the quality of education.
The real elephant in the room is what would happen to fourth tier law education if this case went to court. It would be revealed that some fourt tier law schools jointly have a 50-60% bar passage rate and cull 25% of its students. Going back to the Class of X with 200 students, if you cut 50, and only half of the surviviors pass the bar, you really only have 75 out of 200 that actually become lawyers. Next consider that many of them will be unable to secure gainful employment in the legal profession. If a trade school were to produce such as dismal result, the federal government would likely place sanctions on them such as losing the right to receive federal student aid. If such action were taken against a law school, it would be the end of that school.
The frank reality, not to offend, is that schools like St Thomas probably don’t produce the results needed to remain in the legal education business. The benefited tremendously from Mr Bentey’s enrollment as well as everyone else who was admitted and later dismissed. Transversely, Mr Bentey will most likely never be admitted to law school again. A law student, with a college degree, could earn 30-40K per year instead of spending as much to attend law school. I can’t help but feel, if Mr Bentey dutifully attended school and passed his classes (he didn’t receive any grades lower than a “D”), he is entitled to some compensation for his loss at St Thomas’s benefit.

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