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Seven plaintiffs named in amended complaint to college cheating scandal

Suit seeks reimbursement for over $5 million in student application fees

Six plaintiffs joined Kalea Woods ’20 in the class action lawsuit filed against Stanford and seven other universities implicated in the college admissions bribery scandal in an amended complaint filed hours after the original suit.

The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for student application fees paid by students who were ultimately rejected by an admissions process that the lawsuit deems to be fraudulent and unfair, according to lawyer John Medler.

Because student application fees typically range from $50 to $100 per student per application, and 30,000 to 40,000 students are rejected each year from each of the eight universities named as defendants, the amount in controversy will exceed $5 million, Medler told The Daily. Class actions involving more than $5 million are typically heard in federal court, he wrote.

The case argues that “had Plaintiffs known that the system was warped and rigged by fraud, they would not have spent the money to apply to the school.” It maintains that applicants “did not receive what they paid for—a fair admissions consideration process.”

All new plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are students rejected by at least one of the eight universities or their parents.

The new plaintiffs listed in the amended complaint are Lauren Fidelak, who attends Tulane University, and her mother Keri Fidelak; Tyler Bendis, a student at a community college in Orange County, California, and his mother Julia Bendis; Nicholas James Johnson, a student at Rutgers and his father James Johnson.

Erica Olsen ’21, one of the two plaintiffs in the original complaint, is no longer listed as a plaintiff in the case. Olsen declined to comment.

The suit also includes in its class all students who between 2012 and 2018 were rejected from at least one of the eight universities in question after paying application fees.

“Given the number of applications on a daily basis,” the case reasons, “it stands to reason that the number of Class Members is at least in the thousands.”

Along with Stanford, the universities being prosecuted are the University of Southern California (USC), University of San Diego (USD), The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), Wake Forest University, Yale University and Georgetown University. William “Rick” Singer — who orchestrated the multimillion-dollar scheme — The Edge College & Career Network and The Key Worldwide Foundation are also listed as defendants.

With Singer’s help, wealthy parents across the country, including four Stanford affiliates and 11 Bay Area parents, paid proctors to raise their children’s standardized test scores by feeding them answers during the test or by changing their answers after the test. In some cases, Singer bribed college athletic coaches to tell admissions directors that his clients’ children were recruited athletes.

The coach of the Stanford sailing team, John Vandemoer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to accepting over $100,000 in bribes. Vandemoer was fired by the University after the charges were made public.

The case states that Woods, a plaintiff in the original complaint and the only Stanford student currently named as a plaintiff, had a 2100 on the SAT and a 32 on the ACT, along with “athletic skills.” Woods was rejected from USC.

Lauren Fidelak, who had a 4.0 GPA and 34 ACT score, was rejected from USC and UCLA. Fidelak was then so distraught that she had not been accepted that she had an emotional breakdown that led to her hospitalization.

Tyler Bendis was also listed as having a 4.0 GPA and “good test scores,” as well as being a pole vaulter on his school’s track team, but was rejected from USC, USD and Stanford.

Nicholas James Johnson, a varsity hockey player and “a star” of his school’s school math team, had an SAT score of 1500 (on the new SAT, out of 1600) and a 4.65 GPA. Johnson was rejected from UT Austin and Stanford.

Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu and Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Julia Ingram

Julia Ingram

Julia Ingram ’21 is a Managing Editor for the News section. She is a New York City native interested in English literature, psychology, gymnastics and all things cat related. Contact her at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Erin Woo

Erin Woo

Erin Woo '21 is a Managing Editor for the News section. A native of Atlanta, GA, she is a communications major, a creative writing minor, and a staunch defender of the Oxford comma (despite her copy editor roots). Contact her at erinkwoo 'at' stanford.edu.