24 more sue Mountain State over loss of accreditation

CHARLESTON -- Twenty-four more students have filed lawsuits against Mountain State University after the university failed to keep them informed when the nursing program lost its accreditation status. The former president of the university, Charles H. Polk, and the Mountain State University Board of Trustees were also named as defendants in the suit. Kushom Gurung, Holly McDowell, Rita Southern, Roseanna Wingerd, Jessica Miller, Heather Copen, Josha O'Dell, Jodie Harris, Leigh Farmer Ellison, Heather Baldwin, Ruthanna Withrow, Heather Ruckman, Justin O'Dell, Christina Lawson, Valerie Fleming, Kimberly Cales, Sara Stein, Tammy White, Amanda Smith, Susan Rose, Patsy Stoots, Mary Smailes, Kristen Rinehart and Stacie Richmond were all admitted into MSU's nursing program for a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree, according to 24 complaints filed July 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court. The plaintiffs claim when they were admitted to the program, they were informed that the program was accredited by National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, but later discovered the nursing program did not have full accreditation status. In 2008, the NLNAC voted to place nursing program at MSU on warning and scheduled the next evaluation visit for spring 2010, according to the suits. The plaintiffs claim after the spring 2010 visit by the NLNAC, the commission voted to deny continuing accreditation to the BSN program. MSU, Polk and the Board of Trustees failed to inform the plaintiffs of the accreditation denial and encouraged them to continue paying for and participating in the program, according to the suits. The plaintiffs claim on Nov. 12, 2010, the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses voted unanimously to require that MSU's BSN program cease and desist all admissions to all nursing programs/pathways or any other program representing progression toward a nursing degree for a minimum of 15 months. The defendants were negligent in keeping the students informed and breached the contract with the plaintiffs by failing to provide the education opportunity promised, according to the suits. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by William Druckman, Madonna Estep, John P. Fishwick Jr. and Monica L. Mroz. The cases have been assigned to Circuit Judges Carrie Webster, Louis H. Bloom, Tod J. Kaufman, James C. Stucky, Jennifer Bailey, Paul Zakaib Jr. and Charles E. King. Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1468, 12-C-1469, 12-C-1470, 12-C-1471, 12-C-1472, 12-C-1473, 12-C-1474, 12-C-1475, 12-C-1476, 12-C-1477, 12-C-1478, 12-C-1479, 12-C-1480, 12-C-1481, 12-C-1482, 12-C-1483, 12-C-1484, 12-C-1485, 12-C-1486, 12-C-1487, 12-C-1488, 12-C-1489, 12-C-1490, 12-C-1491

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