A Fort Dodge-based cosmetology school accused of consumer fraud by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has been sued by a former student who claims it violated a contract with her.
In the lawsuit recently filed in Webster County District Court, Samantha Sloan contends that she left her course of study at La'James International College without completing it or getting a tuition refund after the school rejected her request for a leave of absence when her sister became severely ill.
Sloan and her mother, JoEllen Sloan, both of Colfax, are suing the school for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent misrepresentation.
They are seeking unspecified damages.
Amber Sturtz, the administrator at the college's Fort Dodge campus, was unavailable for comment Friday.
No hearings have been set on the lawsuit, which was filed on Aug. 14.
The Sloans are represented by attorneys Rebecca Reif and R. Ronald Pogge, of Des Moines.
According to the lawsuit, on May 16, 2012, Samantha Sloan entered a student contract with La'James International College for cosmetology instruction. Under the terms of that contract, her program was to begin May 29, 2012, and end on Aug. 31, 2013.
That contract included a provision enabling her to take a leave of absence from the program, according to the 13-page complaint filed by Sloan's attorneys.
In October 2012, she requested a leave of absence after her sister ''became suddenly and severely ill,'' the attorneys wrote.
According to the lawsuit, college officials denied that leave on the grounds that Samantha Sloan did not have a qualifying reason for it.
She was later informed that she could not receive a refund of her tuition because of the number of hours of instruction she had already completed, the attorneys wrote.
On Thursday, Miller filed a complaint in Polk County District Court accusing La'James International College of violating the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act by:
Providing an understaffed, chaotic educational environment;
Treating students like employees;
Failing to disclose important information to prospective students;
Charging unfair and deceptive late program completion fees.
Miller is asking a judge to order La'James International College to stop those activities and give the affected students their money back. The attorney general is also asking for a $40,000 fine for every violation of the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.
In addition to its Fort Dodge headquarters, the school has Iowa campuses in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Johnston and Iowa City, and additional campuses in East Moline, Illinois, and Fremont, Nebraska.
The college was fined $10,000 in July by the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences for sanitation and rule violations at its campuses in Iowa City and Johnston.