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A lawyer who sued the makers of the BAR/BRI law review course for alleged antitrust violations has filed a motion for class certification on behalf of 300,000 law students. Eliot Disner, a partner at Los Angeles-based Van Etten Suzumoto & Becket � merged this month with Virginia-based McGuireWoods � filed the year-old case on behalf of seven law school students who were allegedly overcharged about $1,000 each for the course. In filing the March 13 motion, which is under seal, Disner is seeking triple the $300 million in damages. The case is Ryan Rodriguez v. West Publishing, 05cv3222 (C.D. Calif.). A class certification hearing is set for May 15. Disner is also seeking to reverse the past. In 1992, Disner brought antitrust claims against Harcourt General Inc., the former parent of BAR/BRI, on behalf of a company called American Professional Testing Service Inc., also known as BarPassers. The case wound its way to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which affirmed a lower court decision that BAR/BRI had not committed antitrust violations in American Professional Testing Service v. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Legal and Professional Publications, 108 F. 3d 1147 (9th Cir. 1997). “That case turned out badly,” said Disner, who quit the case before trial. But it was “small potatoes, compared to this case.” The new suit alleges that Kaplan Inc. had signed a letter of intent to buy West Bar Review, a bar review course then owned by West Publishing Corp., when BAR/BRI intervened. Kaplan and BAR/BRI allegedly struck a deal in which Kaplan agreed not to enter the bar review business, and BAR/BRI agreed to pay Kaplan $500,000 a year and stay out of its market for Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) preparatory coursework. West Publishing acquired BAR/BRI in 2001. Heather Gilhooly of Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif, who represents West Publishing, referred calls to The Thomson Corp., the parent company of Eagan, Minn.-based West. John Shaughnessy, senior director of corporate communications at Thomson’s legal and regulatory market group, said: “[W]e’ve conducted our business within the law and look forward to demonstrating that at trial.” Stuart Senator, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson who represents Kaplan, did not return calls. Dick Riley, Kaplan’s vice president of communications, replied, “Kaplan’s only agreement with BAR/BRI is to market BAR/BRI material to Kaplan students. Such agreements are commonplace and perfectly proper.” Amanda Bronstad is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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