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Five sue Hagerstown Business College over dropped program

September 07, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Five women who enrolled in court reporting classes at Hagerstown Business College are suing because the college dropped the program before they graduated.

The five had signed up for the 68-credit program at different times in 1996, according to the suits filed in Washington County Circuit Court.

The college canceled the program in May 1997, court records said.

Each of the women is seeking $50,000 damages for every count in their six-count complaints alleging fraud and breach of contract, court records show.

Tuition was about $8,700, court records said.

The first suit was filed in December by Beth Cunningham of Front Royal, Va.

In May, Tammy Lynn Bock of Carlisle, Pa., and Stephanie A. McCarn of Stephens City, Va., filed suit.

This week, two more former students sued. They are Carrie Fishel of Martinsburg, W.Va., and Cynthia Simmons of Bethesda, Md.

All the women are represented by Hagerstown lawyer William C. Wantz.

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In the suits, the students claim that their instructor was not a court reporter and wasn't trained to teach the classes.

The women were told that the program was approved by the National Court Reporters Association, which wasn't true, the suits say.

The college hopes to settle the cases out of court, said Morris Brown, attorney for Quest Education Corp. of Atlanta, which owns 30 colleges including HBC.

"We're trying very hard to resolve the thing amicably. We care very much about our students and we don't like to see suits against us," Brown said.

College President Christopher Motz said the court reporting program was dropped because of declining enrollment and because it was difficult to find qualified instructors. There are no plans to restart the program.

The college made provisions for the women to finish their coursework at Central Pennsylvania Business School near Harrisburg, he said.

"I think the college did its best to try to deal with these students and help them finish their education," he said.

Named as defendants are Hagerstown Business College and former college President James Gifford who now lives in Houston, Texas.

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