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University Students File Lawsuits Alleging “Inferior” Online Classes

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A Florida International University student this week filed what is at least the third potential class-action lawsuit seeking refunds for students within the state university system.

The latest complaint, like the others, alleges “inferior” online classes when campuses closed this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Attorneys for Sarah Fagundez, an FIU graduate student from Miami, filed the suit against the university system’s Board of Governors on Tuesday in Leon County circuit court.

Meanwhile, University of Florida student Dylan Egleston filed a similar lawsuit on Monday against the UF Board of Trustees. That action also followed another case that was filed against the Board of Governors in circuit court.

Fagundez argues that she and other students in the university system should receive refunds for parts of tuition and fees they paid for the spring and summer semesters.

“Plaintiff (Fagundez) does not impugn defendant for taking measures to protect the public health; but the defendant must acknowledge that the education and services it now provides to students throughout the university system lack the full value of those for which plaintiff and the class paid,” Tuesday’s lawsuit against the Board of Governors said.

It continues, “Not only is a fully online college experience inferior, socially and academically, to the in-person experience for which plaintiff and the class paid; but the university system’s ersatz online courses now offered to students are inferior to online courses that were conceived as such in the first instance.”

She reportedly paid $7,880 in tuition and fees for the spring semester.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed last week in Leon County circuit court against the Board of Governors by University of Florida graduate student Anthony Rojas seeks only to obtain a refund of fees, and not tuition.

“Plaintiff’s claims relate solely to fees paid by Florida residents for on-campus services and do not concern fees or costs for tuition and/or room and board because students were able to complete their courses and obtain their credits for the spring semester and because the universities have offered appropriate refunds relating to room and board, but not as to fees,” the Rojas lawsuit said.

All three of the lawsuits make allegations such as breach of contract and “unjust enrichment.”

While the Fagundez and Rojas lawsuits seek are seeking class action status on behalf of students throughout the university system, the Egleston case focuses only on the University of Florida.

Judges will end up deciding whether to allow any or all of them to proceed as class action claims.