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Attorney General wins final appeal against American National University on Consumer Protection issues

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Attorney General Andy Beshear today announced that his office has won the final appeal in a case requiring American National University of Kentucky to pay $147,000 in civil monetary sanctions.

The United States Supreme Court on Oct. 10 denied a petition filed by the for-profit college, formerly known as National College of Kentucky, to overturn a 2016 Kentucky Court of Appeal’s opinion that affirmed a 2014 ruling by the Franklin Circuit Court sanctioning the college $147,000 for violating the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.
 
“The ruling by the nation’s highest court is a win for every Kentucky student who has been misled by a for-profit school who cares more about profits than offering a quality education,” Beshear said. “My office will continue to fight for all Kentuckians as consumers but more importantly as students who want to better themselves and their families. This ruling sends a strong message that companies refusing to cooperate with consumer protection investigations will be held accountable when they engage in meritless delay tactics.”

The $147,000 monetary award stems from the repeated refusal of the college to respond to a subpoena issued by the Office of Attorney General in 2010 and the subsequent violation of court orders and frivolous litigation tactics. The subpoena was issued during an investigation into potential violations of Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act.

Instead of responding to the subpoena, National College, as it was named at the time, attempted to block the investigation by filing suit in Franklin Circuit Court.

The Franklin Circuit Court ruled that the attorney general’s investigation and subpoena were authorized, a ruling which was upheld by the Court of Appeals, but the matter was returned to the trial court to determine whether the scope of the subpoena was appropriate.

After the case was returned to Franklin Circuit Court, the college still refused to adequately respond to the subpoena, and the court imposed a $1,000-per-day penalty in December 2013.

In that ruling, the court indicated that it would probate all but $10,000 of the penalty if the college fully complied with the subpoena within 10 days of its order.

National College again failed to fully comply, and the court assessed monetary sanctions against National College of $147,000, based upon $1,000 per day from Aug. 5, 2013, to Dec. 23, 2013, and $500 per day from Jan. 31, 2014, to Feb. 11, 2014, the date when the court determined that National College fully complied with the subpoena.

National College appealed for a second time, challenging the sanctions in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The Kentucky Court of Appeals’ Aug. 12, 2016, opinion affirmed the monetary sanctions in full. The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to hear National’s further appeal, leading the college to file a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Office of Attorney General has a pending case against National College in Fayette Circuit Court alleging that National College violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act by advertising false and misleading employment rates for National College graduates. This litigation is currently set for trial in January. 

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