A judge in Kentucky has ruled that a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky, in which students were forced to leave campus amid the coronavirus pandemic, may be reimbursed, may continue.
Wednesday’s decision was made by Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd. In his ruling, Shepherd said claims for refunds of around $ 20 million could go forward.
However, The Associated Press notes that Shepherd has denied an accompanying request for the University of Kentucky to offer eligible students a partial refund of tuition fees.
While the final part of Shepherd’s decision represents a defeat for students who feel they are overpaying for a virtual education, it is a victory nonetheless – the University of Kentucky tried to dismiss the lawsuit immediately by setting exceptional circumstances and did not claim any breach of the contract.
The university had also tried to claim sovereign immunity, stating that as a state institution, it could not be sued without proof of a legal exception.
Judge Shepherd said, however, that even if the University of Kentucky can claim sovereign immunity – it can still be sued if plaintiffs can argue that the school may have violated the contract it made with students who pay tuition .
The North Campus of the University of Kentucky. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Flickr: Users /
Shepherd said the University of Kentucky does not have to reimburse tuition fees due to contractual reasons, as students continued to receive classes after the UK switched from in-person to online courses and any student who completed the required assignments for each course , a course credit received a grade. “
The remaining claims relate to fees that the university charges for the use of facilities.
These fees help maintain facilities on campus such as classroom laboratories and fitness centers, according to The AP. While financial and physical maintenance remains important even during the campus closure, the student plaintiffs say they are actually being forced to pay for privileges that they can no longer access or use.
“Our position is that the university has inappropriately withheld fees of nearly $ 20 million – mandatory fees for services and facilities that students were unable to access,” said attorney Andre Regard.
Jay Blanton, a university spokesman, said the university is currently considering the court’s latest order.
Blanton, adds The Associated Press, had previously defended the school’s ongoing fees, stating that they “support critical facilities and services that students have asked for over the years and which have continued to be available to them, such as mental health – and wellness advice “.
According to the plaintiffs’ tuition breakdown from 2019 to 2020, each full-time student who took at least one course on campus paid $ 160 for student health care, $ 131.25 for student union operations, and $ 80 Dollars for the use and maintenance of an on-campus gym.
Another $ 20 went to various university-funded organizations such as the student government, a college radio station, and a newspaper.
Regard advised the Lexington Herald-Leader that in litigation with sovereign immunity, either the defendant organization or plaintiffs may seek an immediate review of a decision’s appeal appeal.
If neither the university nor the student plaintiffs appeal, the lawsuit may lead to discovery.
Judge: University of Kentucky fees lawsuit may continue
Judge: UK students’ lawsuit for fee reimbursement from the COVID semester can continue, but no tuition fees