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December 4, 2023

Judge grants $5M prejudgment remedy in suit over shuttered Stone Academy

YEHYUN KIM | CT MIRROR A closed building of Stone Academy in West Haven. After the nursing school abruptly closed on Feb. 15, educational plans of hundreds of students are left in limbo. Attorney General William Tong launched an investigation into potential violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by the for-profit organization in February.

A Superior Court judge on Monday granted a $5 million prejudgment remedy in a lawsuit against Stone Academy, which abruptly closed last February.

Students filed a class action lawsuit in May against the private, for-profit nursing school in an effort to recoup damages. It alleges breach of contract and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).

The litigation, which is pending in Superior Court in Waterbury, names Career Training Specialists LLC, doing business as Stone Academy, and its owners and trustees - Mark Scheinberg, Joseph Bierbaum and Richard Scheinberg - as defendants.

The students had filed an application for a prejudgment remedy of $10.35 million.

Following a hearing, Judge Barbara N. Bellis granted the $5 million remedy.

“The Stone Academy students who testified were credible and believable witnesses who suffered damage and loss as a result of the defendants' actions,” Bellis wrote, in the ruling. “Even at this early stage, the court finds probable cause that … the class is likely to prevail on the CUTPA and breach of contract claims.”

Bellis wrote in the Dec. 4 decision that the evidence established that Stone Academy students were given no warning of the closure. Instead, they were told Feb. 15 that classes were discontinued as of Feb. 16. Stone Academy fully ceased operations on Feb. 24, Bellis noted. 

Stone Academy had hundreds of students attending its three campuses in East Hartford, West Haven and Waterbury.

“Not surprisingly, as a result of these actions by Stone Academy, their students have encountered problems in obtaining their certifications,” Bellis wrote in the ruling.

Bellis also wrote in the decision that Stone Academy before its closure had “shortcomings,” such as failure to provide qualified faculty for all courses, and failure to provide suitable clinicals that students needed for certification.

Attorney David A. Slossberg, who represents the students, on Monday called the decision a “positive first step in trying to get relief for more than 1,000 nursing students who attended Stone Academy.”

“This allows us an opportunity for a robust review of the defendants’ finances,” Slossberg said. 

Both sides are currently conducting discovery in the case. Jury selection for a trial is currently scheduled for September 2024.

Attorney Perry Rowthorn, who represents Stone Academy, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

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