FEBRUARY 1, 2022 – Lawsuits by students seeking refunds for tuition and fees charged for cancelled in-person classes and on campus activities are reaching the courts of appeals in several circuits. Students allege that universities breached their contracts and were unjustly enriched by retaining tuition and fees for in-person courses and activities that were cancelled in the early days of the pandemic.
Last month, associate Glenn Chappell represented students at Baylor University in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:
During Jan. 5 oral arguments in the New Orleans-based court, Judge Edith Jones stressed that in-person and online learning are different. Tycko & Zavareei attorney Glenn Chappell, who represented the student suing the school, argued the university markets its online and in-person programs separately, charging higher rates for the former, and students paid for an in-person experience but received a different product.
As tuition refund cases progress in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C., Second, Fifth and Seventh circuits, Chappell notes,
These statutes may give the federal appeals courts an opportunity to address how the federal Contracts Clause and similar provisions in state constitutions apply to laws designed to protect educational institutions from liability for actions taken in response to the pandemic.