The lawsuit against Harvard was filed June 22, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion. Hagens Berman has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Hofstra University, University of Miami, Pepperdine University, Quinnipiac University, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis for failure to repay tuition-payers for their losses.
The student bringing the lawsuit was enrolled as a full-time graduate student at Harvard Law School during the spring 2020 semester, during which Harvard closed its campus and transitioned all courses to online instruction.
Harvard has not held in-person classes since March 13, 2020. The lawsuit states that the university instead offered students “a limited online experience presented by Zoom, void of face-to-face faculty and peer interaction, separated from program resources, and barred from facilities vital to study.”
“The online learning option Harvard offered following the termination of its in-person services is subpar in practically every aspect: lack of facilities, lack of materials, lack of efficient classroom participation, and lack of access to faculty,” the complaint reads. “Harvard continues to charge for tuition and fees as if nothing has changed, reaping the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students despite the inferior online learning environment.”
“Harvard is one of the most prestigious learning institutions in the world,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action. “A remote learning experience via Zoom is in no way commensurate to the in-person education students paid for. Students and parents deserve to be reimbursed, and we intend to hold Harvard accountable.”
While Harvard’s endowment is the largest in the world at nearly $40 billion, the university has refused to provide any tuition reimbursement for the spring 2020 term. The suit states that “the Harvard Law School administration has even gone so far as to tell concerned students to take out an additional loan and ‘rent office space’ if they have trouble studying off-campus.”
Tuition costs ranged from $23,865 for undergraduate students at Harvard College to $36,720 for graduate students at Harvard Business School in the spring 2020 term.
Other Affected Universities
Hagens Berman is investigating the rights of those who are currently paying for room and board, and/or tuition at all U.S. colleges and universities that have been forced to close due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This may include parents, guardians or college students who are paying for their own costs of college.
Despite orders from colleges and universities sending home students and closing campuses, these institutions of higher learning continue to charge for tuition and room and board. Collectively, these institutions are continuing to receive millions from students despite their inability to continue school as normal, or occupy campus buildings and dorms.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.