NYU Seeks Dismissal of Tuition-Refund Suits Over Remote Learning

New York University asked a judge to throw out lawsuits by students seeking partial tuition refunds for being forced to attend remote classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Universities have the flexibility and the freedom to make academic decisions, and courts should not second-guess or micromanage them,” Keara Gordon, a lawyer for the university, said in a hearing Thursday on its motion to dismiss before U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan.

NYU, with more than 50,000 students, is one of the largest and most expensive private universities in the U.S. The plaintiffs who sued the school for breach of contract starting in April are requesting class-action status to represent all students, parents and graduates who believe they’re entitled to a refund.

Similar suits have been filed against schools and universities across the country, asking judges to determine whether schools violated agreements with students by discontinuing in-person learning in response to the pandemic. In many cases, the move to remote learning was mandated by state and local governments.

Cheaper Online

The students argue that colleges typically price courses offered online lower than ones conducted in person. They want a partial tuition refund as well as reimbursement of fees paid for the use of campus facilities and services.

NYU “is not entitled to have remote classes and keep my client’s money as if they were entitled to it,” argued Roy Katriel, a lawyer for Daniel Zagoria, a student who expects to graduate this year with a master’s degree in Real Estate Investment and Finance.

Other federal judges have declined to toss similar suits against Rochester Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, two other private universities in New York state, Katriel told Daniels.

The cases are: Rynasko v. New York University, 20-cv-03250; Zagoria v. New York University, 20-cv-03610; Morales v. New York University, 20-cv-04418; Romankow v. New York University, 20-cv-04616, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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