HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A Quinnipiac University student filed a class-action lawsuit against the school demanding repayment for tuition, room and board and other costs amid its COVID-19-related campus closure, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
The lawsuit was filed June 5, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion. The law firm representing the Quinnipiac University student has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Hofstra University, University of Miami, Pepperdine University, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis for failure to repay tuition-payers for their losses.
“Quinnipiac’s students looked forward to experiencing all of the amenities of an on-campus education that the school promised them: its ‘state-of-the-art facilities’ that is describes as ‘second to none,’ ‘residence halls modeled after European ski villages,’ and a ‘vibrant community,’” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action. “Nowhere in those touted pitches to students does Quinnipiac mention Zoom classes, closed campuses and unresponsive professors.”
“We understand that Quinnipiac, like everyone, has been placed in an unforeseen, unideal circumstance, but we think its students deserve money back in light of these events,” Berman added.
The lawsuit highlights that at Quinnipiac University, “…a significant focus of Defendant’s efforts to obtain and recruit students pertains to the campus experience it offers along with face-to-face, personal interaction with skilled and renowned faculty and staff.” As a primarily residential university, approximately 72 percent of all undergraduates live on campus, with 95 percent of freshman living on campus, according to attorneys.
Quinnipiac University Student Sues for Repayment
The student bringing the lawsuit, a Massachusetts resident and film major, lost much of what she paid for in attending Quinnipiac: “…as a film major, a large portion of Plaintiff’s classes were conducted in a studio and/or utilized the school’s film recording and editing equipment. But with the switch to remote learning, Plaintiff lost the use and experience that such equipment provided as an integral part of her education. Instead, Defendant directed Plaintiff to use her personal phone to try to record a film festival worthy project,” the suit says. The student also missed several weeks of use of design software because Quinnipiac did not have sufficient licenses for students.
The suit also says that Quinnipiac professors have not been as responsive during the shift to online classes, with some failing to respond at all to information requests and questions. She also lost her work-study job, according to the complaint.
The suit claims Quinnipiac University violated state law in continuing to charge for tuition, fees and room and board, reaping the financial benefit of millions of dollars from tuition-payers, despite sending students home, closing its campus and residence halls, and changing courses for the worse.
The complaint reads, “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.”
As of June 30, 2019, Quinnipiac’s total endowment net assets exceeded $496.9 million. For the spring 2020 semester, undergraduate students paid $24,280 in full-time tuition (with the per-credit hour rate of $1,075 per credit) along with a technology fee of $720 per year. Quinnipiac’s undergraduate room and board fees ranged from $14,360 to $18,270 per year, while dining service levels ranges from $1,685 to $1,885 per semester.
Other Affected Universities
Hagens Berman is investigating the rights of those who are currently paying for room and board, and/or tuition at all U.S. 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.