COVID-era lawsuit over in-person fees advances through courts

In May of last year, a lawsuit was filed against FSU on the grounds that the university breached its contract.

The lawsuit was dismissed last month, but it is still moving ahead.

After being dismissed by a County Circuit Judge in June, a COVID-era class-action lawsuit is still moving forward against Florida State University (FSU).

It alleges that FSU charged students in-person education fees after classes were moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit was initially filed on August 10, 2021, by Harrison Broerstudents with in-person fees when classes were moved online due to COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. 

According to the suit, students “paid [in-person] fees for tuition and other services” after classes were moved online, thereby losing “the benefits of the on-campus services for which their fees were paid.”

The suit also alleged that the in-person fees were never refunded.

[RELATED: REPORT: University settles $1.65 million lawsuit over COVID-19 remote learning]

On June 17 of this year, Layne Smith, a Leon County Circuit Judge, issued a ruling dismissing the lawsuit, arguing that because there was no “express contract” between FSU and its students specifying that the fees would be refunded should the campus close down, the suit is void.

“Plaintiff and FSU did not enter into an express contract to provide services or in person instruction from the Spring semester in exchange for the payment of student fees during those semesters,” Judge Smith wrote.

[RELATED: Student sues university over on-campus fees during COVID]

The ruling continues, “Similarly, this Court finds that Plaintiff and FSU did not enter into an express contract to return payment of student fees or tuition under the circumstances pled, or to guarantee in-person instruction or a campus operated free from interruption.”

In spite of the dismissal, Broer and his attorney(s) are moving forward with the lawsuit. They filed a notice on July 13 requesting that the 1st District Court of Appeals hear the case. 

Harrison Broer, Judge Smith’s assistant, and FSU were all contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.