Thousands of college students have lost their lives this summer as universities move to settle multi-million dollar lawsuits stemming from the cancellation of classes and activities closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will receive $100 in compensation.
Some of the class action lawsuits against the university are still pending and others have been dismissed, but several major lawsuits have been settled in recent weeks.
Under the settlement, students who were charged tuition and fees but were unable to access in-person services during the pandemic shutdown will receive partial compensation, but will be reimbursed for all on-campus equipment they lost. Do not mean.
The amount depends on the total amount of the settlement minus legal fees and other legal costs. Each case has a different timeline.
Most recently, in June, the University of Delaware agreed to establish a $6.3 million fund to reimburse part of the tuition and fees that students paid for classes, housing and activities in 2020. . Students claimed they were not getting enough from the university. Participation in schoolwork and extracurricular activities. As part of the agreement, each student is expected to receive hundreds of dollars in cash.
However, the university denied any wrongdoing and argued that the collection of tuition fees was justified given the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic and the lack of formal agreements between the school and each student (see others). (Many schools in the United States make similar claims).
Many universities also claim that the near-instantaneous transition to online classes has cost them a lot. In an interview with Stateline, some school attorneys said the students’ allegations were reinforced by the fact that many students chose to continue distance learning after campuses reopened, out of convenience or health concerns. claimed to be damaged.
In an interview, Florida attorney Mendy Halberstam, who was not involved in the Delaware lawsuit but represents other colleges that are also being sued, said the schools “have no merit. “It seems to me,” he said he felt compelled to defend himself against the lawsuit.
“They are not going to make life difficult for the students,” he said. “But they also have to make sure of their (lack of) responsibility.”
There have been about 300 such lawsuits, according to British publication Times Higher Education, which is affiliated with The Wall Street Journal on ranking and evaluating U.S. schools.
For example, the University of Colorado settled a similar class action lawsuit in April for $5 million.
Igor Lakin, an attorney who represented the Colorado students, said the settlement “is a reasonable proposition given the challenges of the litigation itself and the legal situation in general.”
Among the challenges, Lakin said, is the fact that these are precedent-setting cases, with many students already graduating and living due to lengthy legal proceedings.
“We wanted to make sure that students got something that was useful to them.” Individual award amounts vary, but they’re typically in the hundreds of dollars, he said.
In May, the University of Minnesota also settled a class action lawsuit, allowing students to get more tuition and fee reimbursements than the school had originally granted. And in June, a judge certified a group of students in a class action lawsuit against the University of Washington.
But earlier this year, a Rhode Island judge dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Rhode Island and several other schools in the state, ruling that there was no enforceable breach of contract during the closure. Based on the school’s marketing materials, website, course catalog, student handbook, etc., plaintiffs allege that the school closure denied them the college experience they had hoped for.
However, U.S. District Judge John McConnell, Jr. said, “Unfortunately for plaintiffs, these general publicity and distinctions do not create obligations on the part of universities. They are vague and enforceable. It is more like an exaggeration than a promise.”
Two weeks ago, the Florida Supreme Court announced it would consider a class action lawsuit filed by University of Florida students seeking compensation for being denied service during the COVID-19 shutdown.
But in another Florida case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing a student’s lawsuit against the private school, the University of Miami.
The university refunded the daily rent for housing, meals, student centers and gyms. The student argued that this was not enough, but the court ruled that he was “not entitled to any damages resulting from alleged breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or unfair refunds on the part of Miami.”
“The pandemic has forced students of all ages to study behind computer screens for a period of time. “There is,” the court wrote.
“However, despite enduring the hardships wrought by the pandemic, degree-seeking students at schools like the University of Miami retain unimpaired potential for a fulfilling and prosperous future. I am convinced that I am
Jeffrey Ostrow, a Florida attorney who represented a student in a lawsuit against private Barry College in Miami, said the lawsuit was “all over the place.” In one of the earliest settlements, Barry University agreed to establish a $2.4 million compensation fund for students in September 2021.
Ostrow claims that the university did in fact contract for in-person learning and campus activities.
“All of these students enrolled in an in-class program,” he said, noting that before the pandemic, schools often offered lower prices for online classes. “Whether (universities) were forced to close these activities or decided unilaterally, it would be unfair to continue to maintain (tuition fees).”
He also noted that many schools have received pandemic relief money from the federal government to help them through the pandemic.
“There was funding from the federal government, and many schools were able to get it,” Ostrow said. “And we believe that money should have been returned to the students.”