UPDATE: State Supreme Court to hear lawsuit regarding university fees during pandemic
The univeristy has not provided 'students refunds of their fees, even though students were no longer able to use the services for which they paid,’ the lawsuit stated.
The court’s announcement comes after a petition was made on Oct. 31 by the university to appeal the Second District Court of Appeal’s ruling in June, as Campus Reform previously reported.
The Florida Supreme Court recently announced it would hear arguments for a class action lawsuit involving the University of South Florida (USF), which charged student fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USF student Valerie Marie Moore, the sole plaintiff in the class action complaint representing students at USF, argued that the university breached USF students’ contracts by forcing them to pay fees for on-campus services that they were unable to attend due to the pandemic.
“USF has not provided USF students refunds of their fees, even though students were no longer able to use the services for which they paid,” the lawsuit reads.
The Florida court’s announcement comes after a petition was made on Oct. 31 by USF to appeal the Second District Court of Appeal’s ruling in June as Campus Reform previously reported.
The district judge stated that Moore brought credible evidence that USF breached its contract with students regarding charging fees for in-person learning when students were forced to transfer to remote learning during the pandemic, as the opinion reads.
The district court’s decision made way for the case to go to trial, however, the Florida Supreme Court could potentially overturn the lower court’s ruling.
In the appeal, USF argued that Moore’s lawsuit did not identify a specific contract that the university had violated. However, the original complaint lists the fees students are required to pay in order to use certain facilities and attend on-campus learning.
The total came to $88.37 per credit hour for USF students and $115.37 for students attending USF’s Tampa campus.
USF also made the case that if the courts were to allow this lawsuit to go to trial, it would violate its right to sovereign immunity which protects universities from lawsuits that argue a “breach of contract claim against the Petitioner to the extent there is not an express, written contract obligating it to provide appellee with the services to which she claims entitlement.”
The Second District Court addressed this issue previously noting that USF did not address this argument in its initial motion to dismiss. Additionally, the court pointed out that there was not enough evidence at the current stage of the case to dismiss Moore’s claim since “USF’s policies are not included in USF’s appendix and the transcript does not reflect that the policies were provided to the trial court.”
The Florida Supreme Court has not set a date for the case to be heard.
Campus Reform contacted Moore and USF. This article will be updated accordingly.
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