A Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice must turn over some of the documents a Harvard Law School legal clinic had sought from a whistleblower lawsuit over a struggling Pittsburgh-based for-profit college provider’s student recruitment and loan policies.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer granted both the DOJ and the Harvard Project on Predatory Student Lending partial summary judgment in a dispute over the clinic’s Freedom of Information Act request for a trove of materials the DOJ received through a False Claims Act case initiated in 2007 against Education Management Corp.
The judge found that the DOJ couldn’t flatly refuse to turn over all the materials the clinic had sought from the case claiming the school violated federal policy against paying recruiters based on how many students they enrolled.
But she also ruled for the government on the vast majority of the materials it had obtained as an intervenor in the FCA case, concluding that most of the documents weren’t officially within the agency’s control. And even if they were, the judge found, searching through the hard drives’ 9 terabytes of data for documents covered by Harvard’s request would be too difficult.