ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Friday, May 29, 2020

Covid, Contracts and Universities

As reported here, a South Carolina law firm has brought class action lawsuits against three universities and is threatening more to come.  The suits allege the the universities committed breach of contract and were unjustly enriched when they retained tuition payments and fees that will not be expended in ways that benefit students.  

Univeristy of Miami
University of Miami, one of the Universities named in the suits

The suits allege that online classes do not have the same value as in-person classes and that the universities' decision to move to a pass/fail grading system lessened the value of the plaintiffs' degrees.  Meanwhile, suits against the Arizona Board of Regents and Liberty University seek recovery of fees for recreation, health services, room and board, and meal plans that students could not use once the universities shut down in the Spring.  

As a parent of a college student, I note that we received a partial refund for our daughter's room and board.  I am surprised to learn that there are universities that have not done the same.  As to the claim that that online classes do not have the same value as in-person classes, plaintiffs point to Drexel's online business administration program that costs 40% less than their regular program on a per-credit basis.

At the same time colleges and universities are trying to get out ahead of any potential exposure to liabilities that might arise from re-opening to live, in-person teaching in the Fall.  They have appealed to Congress for temporary and targeted liability protection and relief.

(Hat tip to our founding editor, Frank Snyder!)

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