Students Forced Onto Zoom U Can Sue for Refunds; Law Prof Predicted and Encouraged Suits By Evicted Students
Zoom U Students Can Sue For Refunds
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2021) - In the latest in a growing number of court decisions, a judge has ruled that college students who were required to accept on-line instruction - derisively termed "Zoom U" by many students - rather than in-person classroom teaching because of the pandemic can sue in a class action law suit to recover, on behalf of all students, for the difference in value between these two teaching mode, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
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In a ruling just made public, Justice Janice W. Howe of the Massachusetts Superior Court held that Stonehill, a private college principally located in Easton, Massachusetts, can be sued in a class action by students who were forced to return to their homes, and suffer the loss of in-person classroom instruction for which they have paid tuition.
The court rejected the argument that the students should not recover because they still received instruction which was adequate, and would still be able to obtain degrees, this way:
"This is kind of like purchasing a Cadillac at full price and receiving an Oldsmobile. Although both are fine vehicles, surely it is no consolation to the Cadillac buyer that the ‘Olds’ can also go from Point A to Point B."
Eviction From Dorms
Similar rulings were also handed down in cases involving, among others, Boston University, Barry University, Florida S. College, University of Michigan, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, University of Michigan, Ball State University, University of Toledo, Kent State University, and Ohio University.
Professor Banzhaf had both predicted and encouraged law suits on behalf of students who were summarily evicted from their dorms by the threat of the pandemic, and it appears that some institutions of higher education reluctantly agreed to make refunds after his articles appeared.
He also noted that some students were likely to sue when their universities tried to force them to pay to have their property, which they were forced to leave behind when they were summarily evicted from their dorms, returned to them.
Given the huge numbers of colleges and universities which had argued that the "campus experience" they provided was worth the very high tuition they charged, these rulings could well encourage other students and/or parents disappointed by on-line teaching to bring similar class actions which could prove devastating, especially to smaller colleges, says Banzhaf.