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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My son was enrolled in an International School in France to

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My son was enrolled in an International School in France to start this September. Although the school is in France, the school has its head office in the US. The owner/principal has fallen ill and they have taken the decision to close the school. The attorney based in California has contacted us to say that they will not be filing bankruptcy as there are no assets, they are just dissolving the school under the California law and there is not enough money to refund our fees already paid. I have paid US$27,000 for my son's tuition starting September. This just doesn't seem right. Can they do this? Should an International School by law not have some kind of Fund/insurance in the event of something like this happening? The school was accredited, hence why I trusted them in the first place. Please help, what should I do??
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation.

This just doesn't seem right. Can they do this?

No, they cannot. What they have done here is a breach of contract.

Should an International School by law not have some kind of Fund/insurance in the event of something like this happening?

Unfortunately not. There is no requirement for a private school in California (international or not) to have insurance for such occasions.

Please help, what should I do??

Someone in your situations has two possibilities:

1) File a complaint with the California Attorney General - here. The California Attorney General may investigate and may act on your behalf against the company, demanding that you be repaid or threatening legal action. However, this may take months to develop;

and/or

2) Pursue them privately in Court. To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state. Here, you arguably have a case for breach of contract. The essential elements of such a cause of action: (1) the contract, (2) plaintiff's performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) defendant's breach, and (4) the resulting damages to plaintiff. Reichert v. General Ins. Co. of America, 68 Cal.2d 822, 830, 69 Cal.Rptr. 321, 325, 442 P.2d377, 381 (Cal. 1968).

May I recommend the CA Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP. The attorney should take this on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the info. I see another message from you. Did you give further info or was it just posted twice?


 


They say that they will provide accounts when the accountants are finished tallying everything up. How do I know if these accounts are corrected and not fixed in some way? I transferred my money to their account in the US but they must also have an account in France. Should I get confirmation on that as well from the attorney to prove that there is in deed no money?


 


Can I ask the attorney acting for the school, for the names and contact info of the other parents that must be in the same position as me?


 


If there really is no funds left to repay the school tuition, I don't have any recourse, do I? I can't go after the owner's assets, can I? The school is Incorporated.


 


 


 

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Debbie,

Thanks for the info.

You are most welcome!

I see another message from you. Did you give further info or was it just posted twice?

Posted twice - must have been a site glitch, sorry.

They say that they will provide accounts when the accountants are finished tallying everything up. How do I know if these accounts are corrected and not fixed in some way?

You really do not. This is a case of the fox guarding the hen-house. They already have your money. They may attempt not to release it. And anyhow, should you not get back the amount for the education not provided, and not a "percentage" of what they can afford? The fact that they do not have enough to cover everyone is not your problem - it is theirs.

I transferred my money to their account in the US but they must also have an account in France. Should I get confirmation on that as well from the attorney to prove that there is in deed no money?

This would be a good idea. However, at this point, engaging a US attorney to pursue any legal action in general is best since they are headquartered in California. Any judgment may always be domesticated and enforced in France.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Eli. Should I wait until I hear back from them to see if I am going to get something and if I don't then contact an attorney? Or should I start the process now?

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Debbie,

Thanks Eli.

Again, you are very welcome!

Should I wait until I hear back from them to see if I am going to get something and if I don't then contact an attorney? Or should I start the process now?

Honestly, I would get an attorney now. This is because while you are waiting, other disgruntled parents may be already pursuing, and in the few months (if ever) that they may agree to give something back, they may not have anything really left to give. Ergo, I would pursue this now and retain an attorney as soon as possible. Also, having counsel would give you a beneficial edge in negotiation as well.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 87557
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
Ely and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok great thanks Eli. I will take a look at the web site you gave me re getting a lawyer.


 


I will rate you now and come back to you at a later date if I have any further questions or don't get through with a lawyer in California.


 


Debbie

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Ok great thanks Eli. I will take a look at the web site you gave me re getting a lawyer.

Great.

I will rate you now and come back to you at a later date if I have any further questions or don't get through with a lawyer in California.

Sounds like a plan. Good luck.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So sorry Ely, I just realised that I have been spelling your name wrong!!


 


Thanks again for all your assistance, I have taken a loan out to pay for my son to go to this school, so I have having a real hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I may never see the money back when I am still going to be liable to pay the money back from my end!


 


Debbie

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
No worries, Debbie. Again, good luck!

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