A former student of TMU has filed a $300k lawsuit against the Lincoln Alexander School of Law (LASL). Political activist and writer Ish Aderonmu says in the civil suit that the school is liable for falsely promising him financial support for his education and using his reputation to promote the school without his permission.
A copy of the lawsuit obtained by OTR says the school is liable for negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of mental and emotional distress, appropriation of likeness, and breach of duty of good faith.
In an emailed response, TMU said, “The University denies the allegations and maintains that throughout its interactions with the plaintiff, it acted in an appropriate, fair, and compassionate manner.”
Born in Nigeria, Aderonmu moved to Canada when he was three-years-old and then he moved again with his family from Canada to the United States in 1997. In 2010, Aderonmu was living in Philadelphia where he was arrested and charged for selling marijuana. This resulted in time spent in jail and ICE detention centres, leading to eventual deportation back to Canada in 2012. It was these lived experiences that led him to become interested in studying law, he said in a phone interview.
Prior to submitting his application to LASL, Aderonmu said that he had several conversations with then interim dean Anver Saloojee, who according to Aderonmu, was “super excited” about the potential of having Aderonmu as a student at the school. The suit said the school benefited from media exposure, allegedly circulating articles about Aderonmu to “drive up admission rates.”
The suit also says that the school made Aderonmu “broken promises of financial support.”
In 2019, Aderonmu said he met with Saloojee where he expressed concerns that he would not be able to attend the school without significant financial support. Aderonmu said the dean told him “there would be plenty of ‘full ride’ financial aid options,” Aderonmu ultimately received a one-time scholarship from the school amounting to $10,000, which he said was not enough to cover his tuition costs.
Aderonmu chose LASL over other law schools due to this meeting with the dean and because “the university indicated that tuition for the law program would be approximately $12,000 to $15,000 a year,” and “there was no information available to the contrary,” said the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that it was only after enrolling in the program that Aderonmu was made aware of the total tuition costs. According to the school’s website, yearly LASL fees for domestic students amount to $22,265.
Trying to cover tuition costs led him into financial difficulties. He said he ended up being evicted and went into debt. To help cover his living and tuition costs Aderonmu started a GoFundMe that as of Nov. 24 has raised over $40,000.
A previous human rights complaint Aderonmu filed against the university in 2022 for alleged discrimination was ultimately dismissed.
In the email, the school said that the dismissal was because the complaint failed to provide a factual basis that linked a prohibited ground of discrimination to any alleged act of wrongdoing.
Aderonmu said that the complaint’s dismissal indicated to him that his case was more appropriate for the civil court.
The school declined to provide further comment as the court case is ongoing.