Mills College

No Company is Too Big to Play Fair.

Nichols Kaster, together with Bryan Schwartz Law, filed a class action on behalf of students against Mills College on May 11, 2022.

Defendant Mills College abruptly notified students and staff on March 17, 2021, of its impending closure. Defendant told students it would most likely confer its final degrees in 2023. In June 2021, Defendant announced a forthcoming merger with Northeastern University and reaffirmed its promise that it would most likely confer its final degrees in 2023. As alleged in the complaint, Defendant made a variety of representations to its students in connection with its closure, including but not limited to, the ability to graduate from Mills in the student’s chosen program, the ability to graduate from Mills by 2023, the ability to continue their education at Mills or Mills at Northeastern with no increased costs, and the transferability of credits. In reliance on Defendant’s repeated assurances, Plaintiff Cordrey, Plaintiff Varner, and other similarly-situated students decided to continue their studies at Mills with the expectation of graduating in the proscribed period and in their desired program.

Despite Defendant’s promises and representations, students were notified in September 2021 that Defendant would stop conferring degrees in 2022 – approximately a year sooner than previously represented. And more than a year after its closure announcement, Mills finally provided its long-promised guidance to students outlining Northeastern transfer pathways. At this time, students like Plaintiff Cordrey learned for the first time that their majors were going to be eliminated as part of the merger with Northeastern, and that they would have to change majors or transfer to other institutions to receive their intended degrees. As alleged in the Complaint, students are left scrambling, unsure of their academic future.

Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and members of the proposed class, assert violations of California Unfair Competition Law, California False Advertising Law, and for negligent misrepresentation.

This case is entitled Cordrey et al. v. Mills College, et. al., Court File No. 22CV011159 (California Alameda County Superior Court)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q:How do I Join This Case?


    As part of our investigatory efforts, we are interested in speaking with current and former Mills College students.

    You may contact us toll-free at (877) 344-4628, write to us at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, 4700 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, or email Attorney Charlie O’Meara at

  • Q:Am I Eligible?


    This case seeks to represent all persons who enrolled at Mills on March 17, 2021, and who re-enrolled at Mills for the fall 2021 semester. If you have questions about whether you are included, contact us.

  • Q:What is a Class Action?


    In a class action lawsuit, one or more people, called the “class representatives,” sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. Together, this group of people is called a “class” or “class members.” The class representative and the class members together are called the “Plaintiffs.” The entities or companies they sue are called the “Defendants.” The judge or jury resolves the claims for everyone in the class—except those who ask to be excluded from the lawsuit.

  • Q:How Long with this Take?


    Class actions can often take years. Please check this page periodically for updates on the case’s status.

  • Q:How Do I Learn More?


    For more information or questions regarding this case, please contact our Case Clerk, Haley Thompson, at or call (612) 256-3268.

Case Updates

November 8, 2023

Plaintiffs and Mills College Agree to $1.25 Million Settlement with Former Students

Oakland, California, November 7, 2023- Plaintiffs’ law firms Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. and Nichols Kaster, LLP announced today that the Alameda County Superior Court has granted preliminary approval to Plaintiffs’ agreement with Defendants Mills College and Northeastern University, in which Defendants will pay $1.25 million to settle an alleged class action consumer protection lawsuit that covers approximately 408 students. Plaintiffs claim Mills College made misrepresentations to them regarding the College’s merger with Northeastern University after 170 years as an independent women’s college in Oakland. While Mills College and Northeastern do not believe that Plaintiffs’ claims have merit, and deny all allegations made, the institutions have concluded that settlement is in the best interest of the Parties to avoid the time and expenses of drawn-out litigation.

Plaintiffs claimed they faced great hardships arising from the unfortunate closure of Mills College as a separate institution, but Mills and Northeastern maintain they worked with each and every affected student to achieve the best possible result for them despite the difficult situation. With this settlement, Plaintiffs hope to offset some of the increased educational costs they claim they incurred, and Defendants hope to move forward peaceably with providing quality education to students at Mills at Northeastern University without the continuing distractions of the claims and allegations in the lawsuit.

The Agreement between the parties was reached after more than ten months of negotiations, and it settles the lawsuit, Cordrey et al. v. Mills College et al., Case No. 22-CV-011159, filed on May 11, 2022, in the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California.

The settlement received approval from Hon. Brad Seligman, who found the “proposed settlement to be ‘within the realistic range of outcomes of the litigation.’” After notice is sent to the 408 members of the class, a final fairness hearing will be conducted on March 12, 2024.

Plaintiffs: Named Plaintiffs Willa Cordrey, Jenny Varner, Clara MacKenzie, Joya Saxena, and Savannah McCoy were all students enrolled with Mills College pursuing either an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree, but claim they were unable to complete their degrees prior to Mills’ closure.

Next Steps: If the settlement thereafter receives final approval, a third-party administrator will distribute settlement amounts based on an objective formula to each qualifying class member. More information will be available here:

Statement on the Settlement:

Plaintiffs’ counsel Bryan Schwartz, the founder of Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. stated, “We are glad that we are able to get some relief for students who came to us for help after so much unexpected turmoil, to help them move on with the next chapters of their promising educational trajectories and careers.”

Plaintiffs’ counsel Matthew Helland of Nichols Kaster, LLP, added: “This case gave voice to students who believe they were wronged. We hope this settlement allows students to leave these issues in the past and focus on their futures.”

Plaintiff Jenny Varner added: “I am proud of the work that all the plaintiffs and our amazing legal team put in on behalf of the Mills student body.”

Information about Plaintiffs’ Counsel:

Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C.: Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. is an Oakland-based firm which obtains social justice in class, collective, and individual actions, often challenging discrimination, wage/hour violations, and whistleblower retaliation. The firm practices in state and federal trial and appeals courts, in arbitration, and before a variety of administrative agencies. The firm’s principal is past Chair of the 7,500+ State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section (now affiliated with the California Lawyers Association), and on the Boards of Directors of Legal Aid at Work, and the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion and Resources (FAIR).

Contact Information
Phone: 510-444-9300

Nichols Kaster, LLP: For more than forty-five years, Nichols Kaster has enjoyed a sterling reputation as a top employment and consumer plaintiffs’ litigation firm. With over 35 lawyers in its Minneapolis and San Francisco offices, the firm has represented hundreds of thousands of employees and consumers nationwide on a variety of legal issues arising under both state and federal laws. The National Trial Lawyers and ALM have named Nichols Kaster the Employment Rights Law Firm of The Year, and U.S. News and World Reports has named Nichols Kaster a Best Law Firm and its lawyers as Best Lawyers, consecutively since 2012. Together the National Law Journal and named Nichols Kaster a top 50 firm for Elite Trial Lawyers “that are doing the most creative and substantial work on the plaintiffs side.”

Contact Information
Phone: 415-277-7235

June 7, 2022

Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Mills College Students Featured in Huntington News at Northeastern

You can read the article in full by clicking the link.

May 12, 2022

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