Court Grants Approval of $16 Million Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit Against ACT
After nearly three years of intense litigation and mediation, a final settlement has been approved in a lawsuit alleging ACT, Inc. (“ACT”) disclosed information regarding certain ACT examinees’ disability status to colleges and scholarship organizations on score reports, and denied certain examinees with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in its Educational Opportunity Service, which colleges use to recruit students. Final approval of the proposed class action settlement, including class representative service awards and attorney fees and costs, was granted on April 1, 2021 by the Honorable George H. Wu of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Plaintiffs, including a combined total of 56,049 class members, are represented in the matter by Rahul Ravipudi and Jesse Creed of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and attorney Marci Lerner Miller of Potomac Law Group.
“We are honored to have represented each and every one of these 56,049 students who fought for change that will forever impact college admissions and recruitment for students with disabilities everywhere,” said Rahul Ravipudi, Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs. “As class counsel, it is a privilege to continue to have the ability to protect the rights of all future college-bound students with disabilities against score flagging or exclusion from ACT’s college recruitment programs.”
Plaintiffs secured a consent decree permanently enjoining ACT from continuing the three allegedly discriminatory practices that were the basis for the lawsuit. In addition to the consent decree, ACT has agreed to pay a gross settlement amount of $16 million that will be used to compensate certain class members who reside or tested in California for alleged violations of California law, cover the costs of settlement administration, and compensate class counsel for their work with the judge noting that “Counsel has performed well in handling the complex issues involved in this matter and were a benefit to the class.”
Filed in August 2018, Plaintiffs alleged in the class action lawsuit that ACT violated the civil rights of students with disabilities under federal and California law by acquiring the disability status of students taking the ACT Test and then disclosing their confidential information on score reports to colleges and other programs. Plaintiffs also alleged ACT sold student disability data to various postsecondary organizations including colleges, scholarship programs, and other parties who use it for recruitment and marketing related to the admissions process and also excluded examinees with disabilities from its college recruitment programs.
On October 1, 2020, Judge Wu granted preliminary approval of the settlement that was finalized today, having found it to be “fundamentally fair, adequate and reasonable.”
Defendant ACT, Inc. is represented by Eric Samore and Ronald Balfour of Smith Amundsen LLC.