You can see the entire complaint here.
It is 58 pages, and I encourage you to read it.
It alleges, in detail, how BarBri monopolized the market of bar preparation using:
- unlawful market sharing agreements;
- unlawful price-fixing agreements;
- buying up copyright and then suppressing superior preparation materials,
- buying up businesses of alternative bar prep courses,
- offering alternative bar-prep businesses lucrative "consulting" contracts as an incentive to oust them from the bar-prep market;
- attempting to destroy credibility of professionals supporting other courses;
- engaging law school professors to post mandatory law school assignments on the Westlaw pages, so that students would not avoid being bombarded by BarBri advertisements etc.
The complaint described one or more of the above tactics in describing interaction of BarBri with the following competitors in the bar prep market:
- Pieper (New York);
- West Bar Review;
- Supreme Bar Review (Ohio);
- Bar Secrets;
The U.S. district judge Manuel T. Real (date of birth January 27, 1924) presided over the federal class action.
In that action, Judge Real, who was 84 years of age at the beginning of litigation and 92 years old now:
1) dismissed the complaint in 2008 - in a 2-page decision without an opinion, explanation or reasoning;
2) disapproved the settlement in 2011 after the appellate court directed it and denied all attorney fees to Plaintiffs;
3) denied reconsideration of that disapproval and denial of fees,
and then approved the settlement, but cut Plaintiffs' attorney fees from $1.9 mln to $585,000 - and the costs of such a class action, including investigation must have been enormous.
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit made an epic decision not only reversing Judge Real, but directing the district court to reassign the case, after 8 years of litigation, to another judge, pointing out that Judge Real cannot rule fairly in that case.
Judge Real is on the federal bench since 1966 - for 40 years, he actually served as a Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of California from 1982 to 1993, for 11 years.
In 2006, Judge Real was subject to impeachment investigation as to how he handled a bankruptcy case, which was later dropped, Judge Real remained on the bench, and was given, possibly, a job to stall an antitrust class lawsuit of adamant law students against the omnipowerful bar-prep monopolist - a job he carried out superbly for 8 years.
The 9th Circuit apparently had to end this national embarrassment of a "court proceeding" by requiring reassignment of another judge to this case.
The 9th Circuit's decision is epic because it finally - after 8 years of litigation - recognizes the judge's bias.
I must note that no motions to recuse were filed during these 8 years - consider how intimidated attorneys were that reassignment to another judge had to be directed, obviously sua sponte, by the 9th Circuit.
I am saying "sua sponte" (on the 9th Circuit's own motion) because, since no motion to recuse was made in the court below, such issue could not be raised on appeal.
So, this case is about
- epic antitrust activities in preparation of law graduates to take the bar - and thus prove to consumers that they are a "safe choice" in the market of legal services;
- epic bias of the federal judge who tried to dismiss or hurt plaintiffs and their attorneys for daring to bring such a lawsuit, dragging litigation for 8 years; and