California Universities Owe Fee Refunds for Pandemic-Shortened Semester, Class Action Suits Say [UPDATE]
Last Updated on July 14, 2020
Brandmeyer v. The Regents of the University of California
Filed: April 27, 2020 ◆§ 4:20-cv-02886
A class action claims students who attended any University of California or California State University campuses are owed fee refunds for the pandemic-shortened spring semester.
July 14, 2020 – UC Regents Facing Another Class Action Over Spring 2020 Semester Refunds
The Regents of the University of California are the defendants in another proposed class action alleging students at UC schools across the state were deprived of the benefit of their bargain when coursework was moved online and on-campus residents were sent home due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The University has not refunded any amount of the tuition or Mandatory Fees, even though it ceased in-person learning since mid-March 2020,” the lawsuit, filed July 2, says. “The University has also not refunded any amount of the housing fees for students who were unable to move out by certain strict move-out dates.”
In all, the schools within the University of California system have breached their contracts with proposed class members, who paid tuition, room and board, and student fees for services and access to facilities that simply were not provided after mid-March 2020, the plaintiff, a UC San Diego student, alleges.
The lawsuit can be read here.
Update – Regents of the University of California Hit with Another Suit
The Regents of the University of California have been named in another proposed class action in search of refunds for the COVID-19-shortened Spring 2020 semester.
Filed on April 28, the 19-page case looks to recover both tuition and fees given students have been forced off campus and are therefore deprived of the benefits of in-person instruction, as well as access to campus facilities, activities and opportunities, for which they’ve already paid. According to the UC Berkeley student’s lawsuit, the defendant “has either refused to provide reimbursement for the tuition, fees and other costs” of the services not being provided on University of California campuses or has provided “inadequate and/or arbitrary” refunds that fall short of full compensation.
The complaint can be read here.
Those who paid fees for the pandemic-shortened Spring 2020 academic semester at any of the 23 campuses within California’s state university system or the University of California’s 10 campuses are owed refunds, two proposed class action lawsuits say.
Filed respectively against the Board of Trustees of the California State University and the Regents of the University of California, the lawsuits say students lost out on the benefit of services for which they’ve already paid fees, not including tuition and room and board costs, when in-person classes were suspended and transitioned online in mid-March.
Though the defendants constructively evicted students in light of the suspension of all in-person activities and campus services, neither has offered refunds for the unused portion of students’ fees, the cases claim. In essence, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and the Regents of the University of California are “profiting from this pandemic,” the complaints allege.
While the lawsuits give credit to the defendants for making the responsible decision to transition to online coursework and instruct students to leave campus, it is “unfair and unlawful” to essentially pass pandemic-related economic losses onto students and/or their families, the cases say. Whereas it would be right to provide appropriate refunds, the defendants have “taken the opposite approach” by failing to offer fee reimbursement, the plaintiffs allege.
Further, the cases argue that even if the defendants claim they did not have a choice in suspending campus life and services due to the COVID-19 crisis, they have “nevertheless improperly retained funds for services” that are not being provided.
Saying nothing of tuition and room and board costs, fees at University of California campuses amounted to more than $3,000 per student for the 2019-2020 academic year, one lawsuit says. Fees alone for California state universities ranged from $847 to $4,201 for the 2019-2020 academic year, the other suit claims.
To date, higher education institutions the likes of Drexel, the University of Miami, Cornell, Pace, Columbia, Liberty University, Arizona’s state colleges, Vanderbilt and Fordham University have been hit with potential class action litigation over their apparent failure to issue refunds for the COVID-19-shortened Spring 2020 semester. According to the complaints found below, the government has tabbed $14 billion in CARES Act stimulus funds to aid colleges and universities.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.
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