Boston University and Brown University Latest Hit by Student Class-Action Lawsuits Demanding Refunded Costs Lost Due to COVID-19
BOSTON – Students from Boston University and Brown University have filed class-action lawsuits against the universities demanding repayment for tuition, room and board and other costs amid COVID-19-related campus closures and residence hall shutdowns, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
Both lawsuits were filed Apr. 30, 2020, one in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the other in the District of Rhode Island, both accusing the universities of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
The law firm behind the cases, Hagens Berman, also filed a similar lawsuit against Vanderbilt University for its failure to repay students for their losses.
“College students enrolled in classes when the COVID-19 outbreak struck were left with no access to their dorms, to classrooms, campus cafeterias or other facilities they paid to use,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action. “We believe there’s absolutely no reason why they should continue to be stuck holding the bill for tens of thousands of dollars, only to be kicked off campus.”
College Students Seeking Repayment
The students bringing the lawsuits claim that both universities broke federal laws in continuing to charge for tuition, fees and room and board, reaping financial benefit of millions of dollars from students, despite sending students home and closing campuses.
Both complaints read, “So while students enrolled and paid Defendant for a comprehensive academic experience, Defendant instead offers Plaintiff and the Class Members something far less: a limited online experience presented by Google or Zoom, void of face-to-face faculty and peer interaction, separated from program resources, and barred from facilities vital to study.”
Boston University is being used by a graduate student enrolled in the university’s School of Social Work. She had only days to transition entirely to online learning, including group projects, internship requirements and other normally in-person components. For the spring term 2020, Boston University charged students $27,360 for general tuition, $2,740 for a dining plan and $5,360 for housing, for a total of $35,440 per semester.
The lawsuit against Brown University was brought by a full-time student who was likewise left without access to regularly on-campus course components, including access to labs and teaching assistants. Brown University charged spring 2020 students $28,556 for tuition. Brown saw its largest fundraising year ever in 2019, with more than 31,000 individual donors giving $420.6 million. Along with Hagens Berman, local Providence firm McIntyre Tate LLP is representing the Brown University student.
“Both Boston University and Brown offer online courses regularly, and there’s a reason why students still choose in-person, on-campus classes and experiences over them,” Berman said. “Both universities also tout their incredibly low student-to-professor ratio and ability to offer a quintessential New England college experience for students, yet neither of these benefits, among many others, are obtainable now.”
Other Affected Universities
Hagens Berman is investigating the rights of those who are currently paying for room and board, and/or tuition at 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.