By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On December 2, 2022, four nursing students from HCI College (formerly Health Career Institute) in Florida filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school. The students claim the school conducted a “malicious scheme” to block 95% of students from graduating and taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The lawsuit also accuses the nursing school of misrepresenting its accreditation status and NCLEX passage rates.
Critical Details Of The Lawsuit.
The class action, brought by four named plaintiffs, was filed in Federal Court in West Palm Beach. The plaintiffs are demanding to have their loans canceled, and payments refunded and are seeking an injunction to allow all students to take the NCLEX exam.
The suit claims that HCI College misrepresented its accreditation status and lied about its NCLEX pass rates. It also states that it deliberately attempted to prevent students from graduating and taking the NCLEX by unfairly dropping them from the program or forcing them to pay to retake classes that HCI argued were non-transferrable. According to the filing, the school is accused of only graduating students who showed the highest likelihood of passing the NCLEX, thus fraudulently inflating the program’s pass rates.
A History of Alleged Questionable Conduct.
In 2018 and 2019, HCI was put on probation by the Florida Board of Nursing for having NCLEX pass rates below state standards for nursing programs. When they failed to obtain accreditation, the Florida BON terminated the nursing program on August 7, 2019.
Rather than attempt to improve the nursing program and apply for reinstatement, the school allegedly created a “new” program and obtained a different state identification number. They used the same curriculum and same instructors as before, but the “new” program allowed the poor pass rates of prior graduates to be wiped clean.
Then, the college was able to use the guise of this “new” program to mislead students and hide their termination status, lack of accreditation, and the dismal NCLEX pass rates of the “old” program.
The bottom line: creating a “new” program would theoretically buy the college five more years to meet BON accreditation requirements. Despite this, HCI continued to charge students approximately $50,000 in tuition and fees to complete their unfortunately subpar ASN program. Click here to view the plaintiff’s class action and learn more about this case.
HCI College disputes these claims and alleges a disgruntled former faculty member initiated the suit. You can read a statement issued on their website on the status of their Florida accreditation and the fake nursing diploma scheme here.
Key Takeaways From This Case.
This lawsuit and the recent fake nursing diploma scams in Florida highlight the adverse effects of insufficient regulation and oversight in Florida’s nursing education programs. Many nurses and nursing students contact our law firm for legal representation who are in very similar situations to the ones who brought the class action suit.
One must remember that Florida is a hotbed of fraud. Florida laws have always been slanted toward protecting fraudsters and con men. Perhaps the members of the Florida Legislature seem to have the attitude of “There but for fate go I.” Who knows? Corporate laws that allow the creation of shell corporations and companies and allow their owners to remain anonymous abound in Florida. It has always, in recent memory, been known as a “debtor’s haven” where people who owe others money could flee in order to avoid being held civilly liable for their debts.
Don’t Wait! Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), CRNA’s and other health professionals in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, license defense hearings, Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, board of nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders, appeals and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
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Roberts, Ayla. “4 Nursing Students Sue Florida College For Alleged NCLEX Scheme.” Nurse.org. (January 23, 2023). Web.
Bean, McKenzie. “Students sue Florida nursing school, alleging they were blocked from NCLEX.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (February 3, 2023). Web.
“4 Nursing Students Sue Their School Over Deceptive Scheme.” Nurse News Today. (February 13, 2023). Web.
Press Release. “Nursing Students Sue Florida For-Profit School, HCI College, for Deceitful Scheme to Block Students From Taking Licensing Exam and Trap Them in Debt.” The Project on Predatory Student Lending. (February 3, 2023). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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