The case, brought under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, alleges that Star concealed, suppressed, and failed to disclose material information that more than 1000 Star Surgical Technology Program applicants, students, and graduates were entitled to have before, during, and after they decided to enroll and pay to participate in the Program - including the effect of a law that significantly impacted the continuing viability of Star’s ST program. The law, signed by Governor Christie in December 2011 to regulate the practice of surgical technology in New Jersey, provides that surgical technologists must have graduated from an accredited ST program, earned a nationally certified ST credential, or received specialized ST training in the military.
Polanco alleges that Star violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by failing to inform her and other students that Industry leaders agree that Star’s ST program in surgical technology did not have the specialized accreditation required by the new law. Polanco also claims that Star failed to inform its students and prospective students that industry professionals like hospitals, the Association of Surgical Technology, the NCCT - a credentialing organization for ST and other vocational colleges - were interpreting the law to mean that surgical technology programs like the one offered by Star were no longer valid in New Jersey.
“This kind of corporate irresponsibility is exactly why New Jersey has a Consumer Fraud Act in the first place,” said GPEFF’s Thomas More Marrone, who with Pat Pierce represents the Class. “The Class Members are honest, hard-working people who were just trying to improve their own lives while also improving the lives of others. They needed somebody to fight for them.”
Added Pat Pierce, “the class members spent thousands of dollars and a year of their lives, sacrificed income and time with family and friends, just so they could have a real career in healthcare. Instead, the diploma they got from Star is virtually worthless. Star knew it might be worthless but took their money anyway. It is a privilege to prosecute this case.”
Now that Class Certification has been granted, Court-approved notices will go out to over a thousand class members who attended Star during the class period informing them of the lawsuit, and the case will proceed to trial. If the case is successful, each class member will be eligible to recover tuition and other money Star obtained as a result of its alleged consumer fraud. In addition, the Consumer Fraud Act provides for treble damages, litigation costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.