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Hagens Berman: Hofstra University Student Sues School in Class Action Seeking Repayment for Spring 2020 COVID-19 Campus Closure
[June 01, 2020]

Hagens Berman: Hofstra University Student Sues School in Class Action Seeking Repayment for Spring 2020 COVID-19 Campus Closure

A class-action lawsuit filed by a Hofstra University student is seeking to hold the school accountable for what the lawsuit calls "ineffective" classes and educational experiences after Hofstra closed its campus and took its courses online for the spring 2020 semester following the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

"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 (News - Alert) or Zoom, void of face-to-face faculty and peer interaction, separated from program resources, and barred from facilities vital to study," the lawsuit states. "…Defendant's actions have financially damaged Plaintiff and the Class Members."

The law firm representing the Hofstra University student has also brought similar lawsuits against Boston University, Brandeis University (News - Alert), Brown University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Rutgers University, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis, and is investigating others.

If you are paying for college tuition, and/or room and board at any U.S. college or university closed due to COVID-19, find out more about the lawsuit and your rights.

Hofstra: Cancelled Classes, Closed Campus

The class action filed June 1, 2020, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York 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, and seeks to represent anyone who paid those costs at Hofstra fr the spring 2020 semester.

The lawsuit against Hofstra says the suit's plaintiff, a resident of New York state, "paid Defendant for opportunities and services that she will not receive, including on-campus education, facilities, services, and activities," due to the COVID-19 outbreak, adding that she "suffered a decreased quality of experience and education, with limited or no real-time instruction." The lawsuit cites professors cancelling classes through the remainder of the semester, optional final exams and old PowerPoint presentations.

According to the complaint, for the spring 2020 term, Hofstra charges $23,225 for tuition, between $5,480 and $8,858 for room, between $525 and $2,734 per term for dining, up to $105 per term as a technology fee, a $345 university fee, a $120 residence life fee and an $80 student activity fee.

"We believe that it is unethical and outright unacceptable for Hofstra to continue to expect the full amount of tuition, room and board, and other campus-based costs levied for the spring 2020 semester given what has happened," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for students in the class action. "Our client and others just like her are reporting exceptionally subpar educational experiences and have clearly not received what they paid Hofstra for. We think they deserve payback."

The suit highlights Hofstra's touted campus and residential experience, its "diverse mix of cultural, social, athletic and recreational activities" and its low student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to 1, which the school says allows students to get to know faculty. All of which, attorneys say, individuals paid Hofstra for, yet did not receive in the spring 2020 semester.

The suit also calls out the school's usual dedication to community: "Further, to allow students and faculty to personally interact, Hofstra utilizes a unique experience, the 'Common Hour,' a window that 'occurs between 11:15 a.m. and 12:40 p.m. every Wednesday,' during which '[n]o classes are scheduled during this time in order to allow students and faculty the opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities.'"

"All of these charges are simply not applicable given the spring 2020 semester students at Hofstra experienced," 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.

Find out more about the class-action lawsuit against colleges and universities for tuition, room and board, and other costs incurred during the outbreak of COVID-19.

About Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm's tenacious drive for plaintiffs' rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of "Most Feared Plaintiff's Firm," and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

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