Lawyers getting response to WVU degree lawsuit

By Cara Bailey | May 22, 2008



CHARLESTON - Two Charleston attorneys are on the search for students who believe their degrees from West Virginia University are now less valuable after a recent degree scandal.

Greg Chiartas and Bruce Freeman have started running newspaper ads, seeking students and graduates who are willing to take part in a class-action lawsuit against the school's Board of Governors.

Chiartas said he is receiving a dozen calls a day, as well as several e-mails from parents, students and faculty interested in the suit.

WVU has been the center of a degree scandal recently involving Heather Bresch, the daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin. She currently is a Mylan Inc. executive. A panel of investigators found Bresch did not do all the work necessary to earn her master's degree in business administration.

Chiartas said he and Freeman -- both of whom received their law degress from WVU -- began receiving calls from parents and students concerned about the validity of their degrees.

"A tainted degree can affect them," Chiartas said. "They were asking us if there is a diminished value claim for their degree."

Freeman and Chiatras then decided to gauge the amount of people who felt similar and decided to place an ad to get the word out.

"This is not about drumming up business," Chiatras said. "We're trying to figure out if this is a viable cause of action and a legitimate concern with more than just a few people."

The majority of faculty and some students at WVU have repeatedly asked President Mike Garrison to step down from his post, which he has refused. The Board of Governors met last week to discuss "personnel issues" including Garrison, but did not take any action.

Chiatras said they are going to wait until June 6 when Garrison releases his own report and the Board meets again to determine whether to possibly file a suit.

WVU had no comment on the ads or the potential lawsuit.

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