Stanford University. Photo: Jason Doiy

Lawyers representing a pair of Stanford University students have filed a proposed class action lawsuit targeting schools currently embroiled in the admissions scandal that has captured the nation’s attention.

Lawyers for Stanford students Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods claim that the value of their Stanford education has been tarnished by the scandal.

According to the complaint, filed Wednesday in the Northern District of California by lawyers at The Medler Law Firm and Zimmerman Reed, the degrees the plaintiffs are working toward are “now not worth as much,” since “prospective employers may now question” whether the plaintiffs were admitted on their own merits or if their parents bribed school officials to gain admission.

According to the complaint, Olsen paid about $80 to apply to Yale University and Woods paid $85 to apply to the University of Southern California, where both were rejected. The lawsuit brings claims under California consumer protection laws and common law claims of negligence against schools named in this week’s indictment—including Stanford, Yale, USC, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Yale University and Georgetown University—on behalf of a proposed class of all applicants who were rejected between 2012 and 2018.

E.J. Miranda, senior director of media relations at Stanford, said the suit is “without merit.”

“We take the issues raised through the events of this week very seriously,” said Miranda in an emailed statement. “While we continue to closely examine our policies and processes to see if improvements should be made, we stand behind the integrity of our admissions process.”

A spokesman for USC said that the school was monitoring the situation. A spokesman for UCLA said the school is aware of the lawsuit, but does not comment on pending litigation.

J.B. Bird, a UT spokesman, suggested the news shocked the Texas university.

“Like many students and families across the country, we are also outraged that parents, outside actors and university employees may have committed fraud surrounding admissions at universities,” Bird said. “The University of Texas has a thorough, holistic admissions process. The actions alleged by federal prosecutors against one UT employee were not in line with that policy and may have been criminal. They do not reflect our admissions process.”

Pamela Gray Payton, a spokesperson for the University of San Diego, said that while the school does not comment on pending litigation it is “commitment to ethical conduct and integrity in our admissions policies and processes is unwavering.”

“The university is conducting an investigation into the allegations,” she said in an email. “If the investigation reveals wrongdoing by individuals associated with the university, we will take appropriate action to address those concerns and to prevent them from recurring.”

The lawsuit also brings civil racketeering claims against William “Rick” Singer, who allegedly used his connections to athletic programs and coaches around the country to secure admissions for underqualified students through his Newport Beach, California-based companies The Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation.


Read the complaint: