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Mountain State University settlement clears hurdle

Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson Judge Alan Moats, center, part of a three judge mass litigation panel consisting also of Judge Derek Swope and Judge James Mazzone, speaks with the plaintiff’s attorney, Anthony Majestro, during a preliminary settlement hearing at the Raleigh County Courthouse in Beckley.
Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson
Judge Alan Moats, center, part of a three judge mass litigation panel consisting also of Judge Derek Swope and Judge James Mazzone, speaks with the plaintiff’s attorney, Anthony Majestro, during a preliminary settlement hearing at the Raleigh County Courthouse in Beckley.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Mountain State University students are one step closer to the end of a long legal battle after a three-judge mass litigation panel gave preliminary approval Monday to a proposed settlement.

The proposed settlement, which was reached in August after months of negotiation, will establish a fund to compensate over 14,000 students who filed claims when the university lost its accreditation in 2012.

The money will come from the liquidation of MSU’s remaining assets, the former school’s insurance company and the U.S. Department of Education.

Now that preliminary approval has been given, MSU may now begin liquidating assets, subject to the University of Charleston’s lease agreement, which is in place through the end of the school year in June 2015.

Anthony Majestro, a Charleston attorney representing the plaintiffs, said after the hearing, “We’re not finished yet, but we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

A notice will be sent out to the involved parties, and they will be allowed to give their opinions of the settlement. A fairness hearing will be held Jan. 16, 2015, in the Kanawha County Circuit Court ceremonial courtroom in Charleston to discuss the final terms of the agreement.

Judge Alan Moats said the proposed settlement not only outlines an agreement to compensate students, but also to compensate the University of Charleston for the teach-out program agreed upon by the Higher Learning Commission, and for the loss of assets the university was set to acquire after MSU resolved its liabilities.

If the settlement is approved, UC will receive 15 percent of MSU’s assets…

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