Litigation, Legal and Other Matters. The Company and its subsidiaries are subject to complaints and administrative proceedings and are defendants in various civil lawsuits that have arisen in the ordinary course of their businesses, including contract disputes; actions alleging negligence, libel, defamation, invasion of privacy; trademark, copyright and patent infringement; U.S. False Claims Act (False Claims Act) violations; violations of applicable wage and hour laws; and statutory or common law claims involving current and former students and employees. Although the outcomes of the legal claims and proceedings against the Company cannot be predicted with certainty, based on currently available information, management believes that there are no existing claims or proceedings that are likely to have a material effect on the Company’s business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. However, based on currently available information, management believes it is reasonably possible that future losses from existing and threatened legal, regulatory and other proceedings in excess of the amounts recorded could reach approximately $30 million.
On February 6, 2008, a purported class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by purchasers of BAR/BRI bar review courses, from July 2006 onward, alleging antitrust claims against Kaplan and West Publishing Corporation, BAR/BRI’s former owner. On April 10, 2008, the court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, a decision that was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 7, 2011. The Ninth Circuit also referred the matter to a mediator for the purpose of exploring a settlement. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the parties reached a comprehensive agreement to settle the matter. The settlement was approved by the District Court in September 2013 but has not yet been administered due to appeals relating to attorneys’ fees. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Ninth Circuit remanded to the district court which once again set attorneys’ fees on January 11, 2018. Absent another appeal, administration and disbursement of the settlement should proceed, though Kaplan cannot predict when.
On or about January 17, 2008, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania contacted KHE’s former Broomall campus and made inquiries about the Surgical Technology program, including the program’s eligibility for Title IV U.S. Federal financial aid, the program’s student loan defaults, licensing and accreditation. Kaplan responded to the information requests and fully cooperated with the inquiry. The ED also conducted a program review at the Broomall campus, and Kaplan likewise cooperated with the program review. On July 22, 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that it had entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with Kaplan that resolved the U.S. Attorney’s inquiry, provided for the conclusion of the ED’s program review and also settled a previously sealed U.S. Federal False Claims Act (False Claims Act) complaint that had been filed by a former employee of the CHI-Broomall campus. The total amount of all required payments by Broomall under the agreements was $1.6 million. Pursuant to the comprehensive settlement agreement, the U.S. Attorney inquiry has been closed, the False Claims Act complaint (United States of America ex rel. David Goodstein v. Kaplan, Inc. et al.) was dismissed with prejudice and the ED will issue a final program review determination. However, to date, the ED has not issued the final report. At this time, Kaplan cannot predict the contents of the pending final program review determination or the ultimate impact the proceedings may have on Kaplan.
During 2014, certain Kaplan subsidiaries were subject to unsealed cases filed by former employees that include, among other allegations, claims under the False Claims Act relating to eligibility for Title IV funding. The U.S. Government declined to intervene in all cases, and, as previously reported, court decisions either dismissed the cases in their entirety or narrowed the scope of their allegations. The remaining case is captioned United States of America ex rel. Carlos Urquilla-Diaz et al. v. Kaplan University et al. (unsealed March 25, 2008). On August 17, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a series of rulings in the Diaz case, which included three separate complaints: Diaz, Wilcox and Gillespie. The court dismissed the Wilcox complaint in its entirety; dismissed all False Claims Act allegations in the Diaz complaint, leaving only an individual employment claim; and dismissed in part the Gillespie complaint, thereby limiting the scope and time frame of its False Claims Act allegations regarding compliance with the U.S. Federal Rehabilitation Act. On October 31, 2012, the court entered summary judgment in favor of the Company as to the sole remaining employment claim in the Diaz complaint. On July 16, 2013, the court likewise entered summary judgment in favor of the Company on all remaining claims in the Gillespie complaint. Diaz and Gillespie each appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Arguments on both appeals were heard on February 3, 2015. On March 11, 2015, the appellate court issued a decision affirming the lower court’s dismissal of all of Gillespie’s claims. The appellate court also dismissed three of the four Diaz claims, but reversed and remanded on Diaz’s claim that incentive compensation for admissions representatives was improperly based solely on enrollment counts. Kaplan filed an answer to Diaz’s amended complaint on September 11, 2015. Kaplan filed a motion to dismiss Diaz’s claims, and a hearing was held on December 17, 2015. On March 24, 2016, the Court denied the motion to dismiss. Discovery in the case closed in January 2017. Kaplan filed a motion for summary judgment on February 21, 2017. Summary judgment was granted in full and entered on July 13, 2017. Diaz filed a notice of appeal in September 2017 and has until February 28, 2018 to file appellate briefs.