NYU Sued by Student and Alumni in Class-Action Lawsuit Seeking Repayment After COVID-19 Campus Closure
NEW YORK – New York University (NYU) has been sued in a class-action lawsuit demanding repayment for tuition, room and board and other costs amid its COVID-19-related campus closure, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman representing a student and graduate.
The lawsuit was filed June 9, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion. The law firm representing the student 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.
“NYU is America’s largest private university, and its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak necessitated closure of its world-class campus, barring students from access to NYU’s many amenities, facilities, communities and in-person benefits,’” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action. “Unfortunately NYU students were left paying the same in tuition, room and board and other fees, despite receiving an experience that was far from what they paid for. We believe NYU owes its students more in light of this tremendous hardship.”
The student and alumni bringing the lawsuit, both residents of New York, were full-time students at NYU during the spring 2020 semester, during which NYU closed its campus and transitioned all courses to online instruction.
The lawsuit highlights that in NYU’s online courses during its response to COVID-19, students were “limited to rote emails and pre-scheduled in-and-out Zoom conferences, absent of all relationship connections from earlier in the semester.” NYU students, the lawsuit says, paid the university for opportunities and services they did not receive, including on-campus education, facilities, services and activities.
The complaint reads, “Despite sending students home and closing its campus(es), Defendant continues to charge for tuition and certain fees as if nothing has changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.”
The suit also says that for one of the two named plaintiffs in the case, half of her coursework in one of her spring 2020 classes was cancelled. “And another important course, which summarized her time at NYU in a creative project, was similarly and substantially watered down,” the suit states. The lawsuit’s other plaintiff, a student enrolled in NYU’s drama program, was left unable to participate in acting projects for classmates that were involved in directing projects or design costumes for a show that another classmate was producing.
NYU promotes itself to students as “a community of communities,” explaining, “[f]rom residence halls to clubs and organizations, these clubs will enrich your experience,” “help you form lifelong connections with diverse classmates from across the United States and the world,” according to the lawsuit.
As of August 2019, NYU reported an endowment valued at more than $4.3 billion, with total assets exceeding $23.1 billion. Full-time students in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts paid $27,964 in tuition for the spring 2020 semester and $1,312 in registration and services fees. Room and board expenses for the term approximated $9,342.
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.
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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.