WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--George Washington University has been named as a defendant by a class-action lawsuit seeking repayment of tuition, room and board and other expenses in light of the outbreak of COVID-19 that has cause campus closures and disrupted students’ spring 2020 semesters, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
Attorneys say that college students have been forced to endure closed residence halls, cancelled events, online learning in place of in-class courses, and lack of access to labs, cafeterias and often their own belongings as dormitories shutdown in a rush response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The latest lawsuit follows similar actions from Hagens Berman against Boston University, Brown University and Vanderbilt, in which students sued their universities. George Washington University has been sued by the parent of a student, filed May 1, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accusing the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion.
“Millions of parents of college students are facing major setbacks, including unemployment, and now they’re stuck having paid tens of thousands of dollars for a semester that has essentially been cancelled due to mandated shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action.
“While some colleges and universities have promised appropriate and/or proportional refunds, Defendant excludes itself from such other institutions treating students fairly, equitably and as required by the law,” the suit states. “And for some students and families, Defendant does so based on outdated financial aid equations and collections, without taking into account disruptions to family income, a particular concern now where layoffs and furloughs are at record levels.”
“GW touts its ‘academic and residential amenities of a top notch university with the excitement and convenience of living in the heart of the city,’ a severely different experience than students are currently afforded,” Berman added.
The suit is brought by a Pennsylvania parent of a student who paid GW’s tuition and fees for the spring 2020 semester, for which GW charges between $25,875 and $29,275 (depending on when the student entered study) for undergraduate tuition. Student association fees are $3.00 per credit hour, dining plans range from $1,525 to $2,375, and residence hall rates range from $4,675 to $8,420 (depending on the residence hall).
“With GW’s campus closure and transition to an online only educational experience, Plaintiff’s daughter has suffered a decreased quality of experience, education and lost access to important university facilities and experiences that were bargained for by selecting in-person experiences,” the complaint states, adding the plaintiff’s daughter has noticed a shift in and loss of academic rigor.
Attorneys say plaintiff paid GW for an in-class experience that would enable his daughter to communicate directly with her professors, attend office hours, and work through issues in-person, such experiences are non-existent following the university’s campus closure.
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.
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.