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Latest Suit Against BAR/BRI Publisher Seeks an Open Market for Bar Exam ReviewsThe lawyer who filed an antitrust suit against the makers of the BAR/BRI bar review course that settled for $49 million earlier this year has filed another suit, which seeks an injunction that would open the market to competitors. The new suit alleges that BAR/BRI maintained its monopoly over the years by striking deals with or threatening other bar review courses. Eliot Disner filed the new suit on Wednesday on behalf of two incoming California law students who plan to take the California bar exam by 2010.
The National Law Journal2007-08-13 12:00:00 AM
The lawyer who filed an antitrust suit against the makers of the BAR/BRI bar review course that settled for $49 million earlier this year has filed another suit -- this time, seeking an injunction that would open the market to competitors.
Eliot Disner, of the Disner Law Corp. in Los Angeles, filed the new antitrust suit on Wednesday on behalf of two incoming California law students who plan to take the California bar exam by 2010. Brian Schall v. West Publishing, No. 07-05146 (C.D. Calif.).
"The other case sought principally damages for those who had taken the BAR/BRI course and paid too much over nine years," Disner said of the case that settled. "This case focuses on the future and posits the view that there are people out there, including the two who are plaintiffs, who will take the bar review course in a few years and want to make sure they have a competitive market in which to choose the right course and pay the right price." The suit seeks attorney fees and costs.
John Shaughnessey, senior director of corporate communications of the legal and regulatory market group at The Thomson Corp., parent company of BAR/BRI's owner, West Publishing Corp., declined to comment on the new suit.
Disner, who filed the suit with co-counsel Alan Harris, a partner at Los Angeles-based Harris & Ruble, said West Publishing, the owner of BAR/BRI, should split up its assets and reduce its influence on law schools in order to allow other bar review courses to compete.
The new suit alleges that BAR/BRI maintained its monopoly over the years by striking deals with or threatening other bar review courses including BRC, Becker, PMBR, Marino, Pieper, Kaplan, Supreme Bar Review, Bar Secrets, LexisNexis and West Bar Review, which BAR/BRI acquired in 1997. In one case, a principal of Rigos Professional Education Programs, a bar review course based in Seattle, was burglarized repeatedly at his office after he was listed as a witness in the previous BAR/BRI case, the suit says.
Disner filed that suit in 2005, claiming that West Publishing and Kaplan Inc. conspired to monopolize the market for bar review courses. Filed as a class action of 300,000 students who each allegedly were overcharged about $1,000 for the course, the case sought triple an estimated $300 million in damages.
Under the settlement, which a federal judge approved last month, each class member is anticipated to receive about $125.
In May, Disner was ousted from his firm, McGuireWoods, after he filed briefs on behalf of three class representatives who objected to the settlement.
Last month, another lawyer who objected to the $49 million settlement filed a $48 million class action lawsuit on behalf of tens of thousands of consumers preparing for the New York bar exam who were overcharged for BAR/BRI materials.