Lawsuit Says Cornell Owes Tuition Refunds for ‘Subpar’ Online Learning Experience Forced by COVID-19 Crisis [UPDATE]
Last Updated on April 28, 2020
Haynie v. Cornell University
Filed: April 23, 2020 ◆§ 3:20-cv-00467
A class action says Cornell should issue refunds given the allegedly "subpar" online learning environment endured by students during the COVID-19 shortened Spring 2020 semester.
Update – Cornell Hit with Another Class Action Seeking Semester Refunds
Cornell University is the defendant in another proposed class action centered on the Ivy League institution’s alleged refusal to issue tuition and fee refunds for the Spring 2020 semester, which was shortened due to the pandemic.
Though Cornell made the right call in closing its campus, the decision deprived students of the benefits of “in-person instruction, meals, access to campus facilities, student activities, and other benefits and services” for which they had already paid, the lawsuit says.
Despite suspending in-person classes on March 13 and ordering students to leave campus as soon as possible—not to mention the school’s potential eligibility for a sizable chunk of CARES Act funding—Cornell has nonetheless either refused to provide refunds or has extended “inadequate or arbitrary” reimbursements, the case alleges.
The 19-page complaint can be found here.
Cornell University faces a proposed class action lawsuit that argues the school should refund tuition and fees given the Spring 2020 semester’s online learning environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is “subpar in practically every aspect.”
Filed in New York’s Northern District, the suit states that the Ivy League school announced on March 13 that it would suspend all classes for two weeks, as well as its spring break scheduled for March 29 through April 6. The lawsuit says Cornell students were discouraged from contacting their professors during this time, and informed that classes would be held in online formats once the two-week span passed. According to the case, the school has not held in-person classes since March 13.
The plaintiff argues that as a result of the suspension of in-person academic instruction, Cornell has not delivered the educational services, access to facilities and opportunities for which students have already paid. The complaint contests that Cornell’s online learning environment brought on by the coronavirus crisis is “subpar in practically every aspect,” including with regard to the lack of access to facilities, course materials and faculty.
“Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique,” the complaint reads. “The remote learning options are in no way the equivalent of the in-person education the Plaintiff and the putative class members contracted and paid for.”
The plaintiff, who along with every other student was required to leave campus March 29, argues that even if Cornell had no choice but to cancel in-person classes, the institution has “nevertheless improperly retained funds for services it is not providing.”
To date, institutions of higher learning such as Drexel, the University of Miami, Liberty University, Arizona’s state universities, Pace, Columbia, and the University of Colorado Boulder have been hit with potential class action litigation claiming they’ve wrongfully kept tuition and fees paid for the Spring 2020 semester disrupted by the coronavirus crisis.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.
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