$500 Billion Lawsuit Against Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Is 'Ridiculous': Legal Expert
"As an attorney, I wouldn't take these cases," says Steve Cohen, who wrote a book about college admissions
In the wake of the alleged college admission cheating scam, parents from around the country are outraged — and wondering if their kids were wrongfully denied a spot in selective colleges in favor of those accused of cheating their way in.
Toy alleges she raised her son, Joshua, with a good work ethic, and made various sacrifices over the years to ensure he would get into a good college. She claims he had a 4.2 GPA upon graduating high school and applied to “some” of the colleges involved in the scandal — which include Yale, USC, Georgetown and Wake Forest — but did not get accepted. She filed a class-action suit on March 13, accusing the defendants of inflicting emotional distress, civil conspiracy and fraud.
But a legal expert who wrote a book about college admissions thinks the lawsuit is “ridiculous” — and may not go far.
“As an attorney, I wouldn’t take these cases,” says Steve Cohen, a partner at Pollock Cohen in New York City.
“The people who these kids replaced would have filled those same niches,” says Cohen, who wrote Getting In, a bestselling book about college admissions. “Suppose one of these kids got in as a soccer player, for example, by bribing the coach. That slot would have gone to someone actually does play the sport. The slot would not have gone to someone who isn’t a soccer player, even if they had higher SAT scores.”
“Remember, these schools are trying to put together a well-rounded class,” Cohen continues. “There are going to be a certain number of athletes for each team, a certain number of people from each club, and a certain number of people for each academic major.”
In her lawsuit, Toy argued that her sons’ opportunity for a fair chance to be accepted into a good school was “stolen” by the allegedly “despicable and illegal actions” of the defendants.
Cohen sympathizes with Toy. “What these people did was horrible,” he tells PEOPLE. “It was greed. It was entitlement. It was definitely wrong. But it’s hard to prove that a particular student was passed over.”
“Yes, some of these kids cheated on their SATs,” Cohen continues. “those slots might’ve gone to someone with a higher score. But SATs are just a good and reasonable measure of one dimension of a kid. How well did that kid prepare for the SAT? It’s not even a good predictor of how well they’ll do in college. So I don’t think the lawsuits will go anywhere.”
Huffman, Loughlin and Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among 50 people named last Tuesday in an alleged conspiracy to defraud and undermine competitive student admissions at elite colleges and universities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to designate their daughters as recruits on the USC crew team — even though they don’t even row. The parents are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. They have each been freed on $1 million bond.
Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 in a scheme to fraudulently boost her daughter’s SAT scores. The actress — who has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud — was released on a $250,000 bond after her arrest last Tuesday and appeared in a Los Angeles court on Friday. Her next court hearing is on March 29.
Loughlin and Huffman have not entered pleas. Huffman’s rep and Loughlin’s attorney have not returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment.