Almost $1.9M settlement in lawsuit launched by Edmonton nursing students against CDI College

Former CDI nursing students who claimed they watched Netflix and used colouring books in class have received almost $1.9 million in settlement of a class action lawsuit launched in 2013

Students claimed they watched Netflix and used colouring books in class

Former CDI College nursing student Ennet Sekeramayi said students raced wheelchairs and watched Netflix videos instead of receiving formal instruction during class time. (Niall McKenna)

CDI College has paid a group of former nursing students almost $1.9 million in settlement of a class action lawsuit launched in 2013 against the private career college.

According to a settlement agreement dated Sept. 15, 2017, $1.88 million would be paid to the 163 former students in the college's Licensed Practical Nursing program at the South Edmonton Campus.

The payments, on behalf of the defendants CDI and Bow Valley College, which together ran the LPN program, had all been mailed out as of mid-April, according to the CDI Class Action website.

In the original claim statement, students said the program "failed to deliver the educational services it agreed to supply to members of the class."

Staff at CDI gave students colouring books instead of textbooks, showed them movies on Netflix, and led activities including T-shirt painting and wheelchair races, according to the statement. 

Ennet Sekeramayi was one of two plaintiffs in the case. In a letter she sent to the Ministry of Advanced Education and others, she wrote about some of her concerns about the program.

"Instead of using class time for instruction time, it has been used for reading our textbooks and games such as 'Would You Rather?'"

She also wrote that the instructor of her psychology class left two weeks before finals, leaving students to struggle alone.

None of the claims were ruled on in court, and the settlement does not hold CDI liable.

CDI points to problems with student performance

In an affidavit responding to the statement of claim, Victor Tesan, the interim president and the then-COO of the company that operates CDI, said that in the LPN program course description, each student was asked to confirm their understanding that the college may update or modify courses to facilitate ongoing developments in programs. 

The affidavit also disparaged students about their academic performance.

In 2013, CDI stopped offering its licensed practical nurse program. (CBC)

It refers to a group of students dubbed "The April Group," who walked out of a class in April 2013 and asked to withdraw from the program. Some of those students, it said, "already exhibited behaviour and characteristics that tend to stand in the way of academic success."

It includes statements from instructors that some of those students were either frequently late, disruptive in class or refused to pay attention and put their phone away. In one case, it said, a student showed naked pictures to the instructor.

These claims were also not proven in court.

CDI suspends LPN program

The class action lawsuit included students who dropped out of the program as well as some who had graduated.

After problems with the program were reported to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses, some students who were working as LPNs had their permits temporarily suspended. 

The LPN program at CDI was suspended in 2013. 

The two plaintiffs said they each paid $30,000 in tuition for the program. Both received more than $20,000 in the settlement.

As well, the settlement agreement release claimants from liability to CDI for unpaid tuition, associated interest, penalties and other costs. While many former students do not still owe anything to the institution, others in the list owe amounts ranging from $296 to more than $20,000.

The settlement agreement was approved in November 2017 and included a clause that both parties would not contact media about the case.

In response to a CBC request for comment, CDI sent the statement: "CDI College has been operating for over 40 years and we are committed to continuing to provide quality education and career training to our students."