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CHARLES TOWN – Fifteen local nursing students who are suing Mountain State University, alleging that the classes they took are worthless, entered into mediation with the private university on Monday.
MSU’s nursing program lost its accreditation in 2010, after the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission found that it had not made sufficient progress in addressing problems that had been identified with the program in 2008.
The suit alleges that MSU encouraged the students to remain in the program, misleading them about future job prospects that could come as a result of a nursing degree and that it failed to inform them of the loss of accreditation.
They have joined hundreds of other students in the mediation sessions ordered by a state mass litigation panel.
The 15 area students had originally pursued their claim in federal court because, in addition to violations of state law, they allege that MSU and Charles Polk, its former president, had violated the federal RICO statute, an anti-racketeering law often used to prosecute organized crime.
The students agreed earlier this month to suspend their RICO claims in order to participate in the mass mediation, but, if it falls through, they will resume their case in federal court with the RICO claims included.
“The defendant agreed that we could add the RICO claims back in if we didn’t get this case settled in mediation,” said Stephen Skinner, the students’ lawyer.
The details of the ongoing mediation are confidential.
“For many of my students, they lost three years of their life to a worthless program, and none of their credits are transferrable,” Skinner said. “I have some clients who were not able to transfer even one of their nursing credits, and they have to start over from scratch … They’re going to have to spend an extra three years later on in their life working to make up for this lost time.”
Skinner said he is hopeful the mediation will end in a successful settlement.
“We’re going to have to see really significant movement in order to get this settled,” he said. “I’m hopeful that there are still going to be some assets left that can be used to pay for these claims.”