University of Miami Sued in Class-Action Lawsuit

A parent of a student from University of Miami filed class-action lawsuit against the school demanding repayment for tuition, room and board and other costs amid COVID-19-related campus closure and residence hall shutdowns, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

The lawsuit was filed May 13, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion.

The law firm representing the parent of the University of Miami student has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brown University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis for failure to repay tuition-payers for their losses.

Steve Berman, Managing Partner of Hagens Berman

“Students enrolled in classes at the University of Miami when COVID-19 struck were left with no access to dorms, to classrooms, to campus cafeterias or other facilities they paid tens of thousands of dollars to use.

We believe there’s absolutely no reason why those paying tuition and other costs should continue to be stuck holding the bill, especially in such financially trying times and record unemployment,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action.

“There’s a reason online-only degrees are cheaper,” Berman added. “The University of Miami owes those who paid tuition for its touted ‘state-of-the-art equipment’ and ‘variety of academic, cultural and social experiences that are hard to get elsewhere’ a refund.”

The lawsuit highlights the university’s requirement that non-local first-year students to live in university housing. Additionally, its library system, “rank[s] among the top research libraries in North America with a combined collection of over 4 million volumes, with over 100,000 current electronic and print serials” and which also contain extensive group study spaces, the Herbert Wellness Center, “[d]esigned to be one of the finest centers in the nation for recreational sports, fitness, and wellness education programs…”

U. of Miami Lawsuit Seeking Repayment

The parent bringing the lawsuit, a Virginia resident, claims the University of Miami violated state law in continuing to charge for tuition, fees and room and board, reaping 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.”

For the spring term 2020, the University of Miami charged undergraduate students $25,200 for tuition and $7,734 for on-campus housing and meal charges, among additional costs.

Over the last decade, the University of Miami has engaged in multiple record breaking campaigns, including the “Momentum” campaign, which amassed “$1.4 billion in donations at a time when no Florida school had ever before topped the billion-dollar mark,” and the “Momentum2” campaign, through which Miami surpassed $1.6 billion in donations, according to the complaint. In FY2019, it “raised $321.8 million—more than $139 million over the previous year, and endowment giving increased by 62 percent, making [FY2019] one of the best fundraising years in the University’s 94-year history.”

The University of Miami also is eligible to receive an estimated $8.1 million from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the lawsuit states.

“One cannot ignore the disparity between the University of Miami’s blockbuster fundraising figures and the shocking unemployment rates, financial instability and uncertain futures faces across the nation, and in Florida,” Berman said.

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.

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