The first of more than 1,000 lawsuits filed against Pasadena's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts has been settled, awarding claimant Anna Berkowitz and her father Martin $217,000.
According to Pasadena Now, arbitrator Samuel G. Jackson found that Le Cordon Bleu committed fraud when recruiting Berkowitz from high school, convincing her to borrow some $40,000 to pay for tuition. Berkowitz claims the school told her the degree would make her a "shoe-in" for a job as a pastry chef, with a starting salary of $75,000.
Berkowitz is the first of the lawsuits to be settled; other claims allege that Le Cordon Bleu was running a fraudulent scheme convincing students that if they borrowed between $30,000 to $50,000 and completed the school, all students would immediately find a job as a chef upon graduation with annual salaries between $40,000 to $80,000, thus easily paying off their student loans.
The claimants allege that the school knew these advertising claims were false; upon graduation students would only make $10 to $12 an hour and have to work their way up to $14 and $15 an hour, making it difficult to pay off their loans.
LA Weekly reports that Le Cordon Bleu has issued a statement, intending to challenge the arbitrator's award and claiming that $150,000 of the $217,000 was given to Berkowitz's attorneys, which is not permitted. The school also claims it "never misrepresented potential career outcomes to our students," also claiming that Berkowitz and her father signed "multiple documents affirming that no representations of any kind were made to her regarding salaries or job outcomes."