April 30, 2020
As we’ve previously reported, we’re starting to see lawsuits brought against companies in certain industries related to COVID-19. The latest in this trend are suits filed against colleges and universities that discontinued on-campus classes in the wake of the pandemic and shifted to online classes. In connection with the shift in teaching methods, the educational institutions sent students home. Now, a number of students at certain institutions have filed lawsuits against their schools and seek the return of tuition and various fees, including those charged for room and board. The lawsuits, which are typically being filed as class actions, seek recovery based on a number of theories, including breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and conversion. The lawsuits seeking tuition refunds raise a particularly interesting issue as to the substance and quality of online learning as compared to traditional learning and whether students receiving online learning are obtaining the benefit of their bargain. We will be monitoring these suits as they progress. Colleges and universities facing such lawsuits (or at risk of facing such suits) should have an attorney check their insurance policies, including directors and officers liability insurance, to see if coverage potentially exists.