Case Western Faces Lawsuit Over Tuition Fees During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Case Western Reserve University located in Cleveland, Ohio is facing a class action lawsuit regarding tuition and fees paid for in-person and hands-on educational costs that have not been refunded since the start of the pandemic.
Plaintiff Daniel Lozada brought this complaint forward on behalf of all the students who paid tuition and/or fees to attend the university in-person, despite the fact that all current coursework has been moved to an online platform through at least the Spring semester of 2020.
The university canceled all on-campus events and closed facilities which students paid mandatory fees to be allowed access to.
Students at Case Western, like other universities, are required to pay certain event, service, and facilities fees to cover the costs of programs which they might engage with on campus. However, at the start of the pandemic, all of these events, services, and facilities were shut-down to prevent further spread of the virus. It is not the shut-down of these programs that Case Western students have taken issue with, but instead the university’s refusal to refund any amount of tuition or mandatory fees intended for on-campus learning and student engagement experiences.
The official class action complaint points out that the university’s failure to provide these on-campus programs is a breach of the student-university contract.
Lozada and his supporters propose that the university should return the prorated portion of the tuition and mandatory fees it received in a proportionate amount to the time the campus has been closed. This complaint also seeks protection for future semesters in which students may be prevented from engaging in on-campus programs due to the pandemic. In these ways, the complaint seeks to compensate students for the university’s alleged breach of contract.
Mandatory fees for each semester range from $140 to $202 per student.
While at first, this number might not seem terribly impressive, it is important to remember that each student is expected to pay this fee. According to the complaint, the resulting matter of controversy exceeds $5,000,000. This is no small sum; it’s not hard to see why Case Western students are pushing for refunds and future protections. The complaint also points out that the educational experience they were promised when enrolling to Case Western is a far cry from the one they are currently receiving. With all classes currently held online, all of the class lectures are pre-recorded or conducted over Zoom. It is this lack of classroom interaction, collaboration, and opportunity to develop in-class study skills that concerns many students, who do not perform as well in virtual learning environments.
Students are also concerned over the lack of access to education facilities such as libraries, labs, and study rooms.
Many of these resources are not something that students have access to at home, and often play a significant role in a student’s choice to enroll in one university over another. Due to Case Western’s reaction to the pandemic, these elements have become non-factors in the students’ learning experience, leaving many students feeling taken advantage of and at a loss for necessary resources. This is just part of the reason that students are pushing for some sort of refund regarding tuition costs as well; it is undeniable that university students across the country are not receiving the on-ground educational experience and opportunities they were promised during enrollment.
The complaint sums up its allegations by making the point that the university’s failure to provide reimbursements for mandatory fees and tuition for in-person learning “violates generally accepted principles of business conduct”. This is unlikely to be the only lawsuit of its kind, as universities across the United States struggle to restructure their educational programs to fit the educational and safety needs of their students during the pandemic.