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Detmer v. La' James International College

Student Defense and Wandro & Associates, P.C. filed a class-action lawsuit in Polk County District Court on behalf of a class of current and former students of La’ James International College, an Iowa-based chain of beauty schools. The lawsuit accuses La’ James of violating the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act by illegally withholding financial aid funds for living expenses, breaking the commitment it made to them when they enrolled. Students count on this money to pay for household expenses while they go to school. The delays in payments subject students to great financial stress, forcing them to borrow money from other sources and leaving them unable to afford basic needs such as transportation and housing. Some students have nearly been evicted.

“For too long, La’ James International College has taken advantage of its students through deceptive practices which has had devastating effects on their students' lives and livelihoods,” said Wandro & Associates attorney Alison Kanne. “Wandro & Associates, P.C. looks forward to working with the National Student Legal Defense Network in achieving justice for Iowa students who have been the victims of these deceptive consumer practices."

La’ James International College, headquartered in Fort Dodge, Iowa, is a chain of beauty and cosmetology schools that has multiple campuses in Iowa.

Students at La’ James are eligible for federal financial aid to help pay their cost of attendance, in the form of Pell Grants and student loans. Those funds are disbursed to the school by the U.S. Department of Education. For many students, the funds cover both tuition and an additional sum for living expenses. Many students attending La’ James are from low-income backgrounds and have families to support.

The students represented in the lawsuit were promised payments from La’ James for their living expenses, and received the funds only after months of delay. For example, Jenna Detmer received her payment after an eight-month delay. Because of La’ James’s misconduct, she took out more loans, almost lost her car, and was nearly evicted. 

The lawsuit seeks full repayment for the affected students, damages for the consequences to students of the long delays in receiving disbursements, and injunctive relief to ensure La’ James stops its unlawful practices permanently.

La’ James was the subject of a 2018 investigation by the New York Times and the Hechinger Report, which highlighted how the school left graduates with low-paying jobs and debts they cannot afford to repay.

UPDATE: La’ James appealed the District Court’s decision to certify this case as a class action on February 17, 2021. The Court of Appeals upheld this decision to certify the class. “This ruling affirms that the students who brought this lawsuit are not alone,” said Student Defense Litigation Director Eric Rothschild. “We will make sure all students who counted on La’ James to keep its promises about the financial aid get the relief they deserve.”

UPDATE Feb. 9, 2024: A Proposed Settlement has been reached in this case. If you or someone you know attended an academic program at an Iowa campus of La’James International College between February 18, 2018 and May 31, 2023, please see this Notice on the Wandro & Associates, P.C. website to learn more about how your rights may be affected by the settlement.

Link to Notice:


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