A Georgetown University grad student has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school seeking repayment for expenses he says are being unrightfully retained by the university in light of the COVID-19 campus shutdown, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
The lawsuit filed May 21, 2020, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion for continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students despite sending students home and closing campus due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The law firm representing the Georgetown University student has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brown University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Rutgers University, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis for failure to repay tuition-payers for their losses during the spring 2020 semester, abruptly cut short and altered due to COVID-19.
When Georgetowns students enrolled for the spring 2020 semester, they did not anticipate having no access to campus, its libraries, dining halls, dorms, labs, in-person lectures, student activities nor their own graduations, said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action.
We believe that Georgetown cannot in good faith continue to retain or collect fees related to activities, room and board, or tuition given the semester students were dealt with and left them barred from campus, Berman added.
Georgetown Tuition Class Action
The class-action lawsuit against Georgetown seeks to represent anyone paying tuition and other fees for the universitys spring 2020 semester and says, 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.
Theres a reason Georgetown doesnt offer certain classes and degrees online, Berman said. The lawsuit states, With Georgetowns campus closure and transition to an online-only educational experience, Plaintiff has suffered a decreased quality of experience, education, and lost access to important university facilities and experiences, all of which he bargained for by selecting in-person experience.
On top of the change in class format, professors cover less material, with one of Plaintiffs professors indicating to the class 20% of the planned course materials have been eliminated because the professor no longer has time to cover such material through an online-only format, the lawsuit states.
The suit explains the difficulties the plaintiff and other class members have experienced in switching to online-only classes, as well as his being forced to eliminate an overseas travel component that was part of the planned curriculum.
According to the lawsuit, as of 2019, Georgetowns endowment totaled approximately $1.8 billion. For undergraduates, Georgetown received $27,720 for full-time tuition, on-campus housing fees ranging from $4,938 to $6,615, board ranging from $438 to $3,407 and other expenses for the spring 2020 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 firms tenacious drive for plaintiffs rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of Most Feared Plaintiffs 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.