Students sue UO, OSU for not refunding tuition during COVID

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Law firm representing plaintiffs is suing universities across the nation in similar suits

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Students are suing Oregon’s largest higher education institutions for the full tuition and fees both charged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Eugene, a student filed a class-action lawsuit against the University of Oregon, the president and the board of trustees, demanding repayment tuition and mandatory fees charged while the institution transitioned to remote learning in Spring 2020.

The lawsuit was filed on Friday in the Circuit Court for the state of Oregon in Multnomah County, and accuses the university of “breach of contract” and “unjust enrichment.”

“Despite transitioning to online instruction, defendants continued to charge full tuition and fees as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students,” the complaint states. “Defendants did so despite students’ complete inability to continue school as normal, occupy campus buildings, or avail themselves of school programs, services, and events”

The complaint further states that despite paying full tuition, students lost access to campus libraries, classrooms, study spaces, studio spaces and lounges.

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the law firm representing the student, filed an almost identical lawsuit against Oregon State University. It also filed similar lawsuits against other universities across the nation including Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, Emory University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Hofstra University, University of Miami and New York University.

A judge in Rhode Island dismissed a similar class-action suit filed by students against Brown University, Johnson and Wales University, the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University, The Brown Daily Herald reported Thursday.

Judge John J. McConnell wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs failed to “identify any contractual terms” that obligated Brown, or any of the other three schools served, to “provide in-person, or on-campus instruction.”

McConnell however did not dismiss allegations that the universities breached contract by failing to provide refunds for meal plan and recreational housing fees. Haggen Berman told The Brown Daily Herald that they would proceed to pursue those claims.

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