American University will pay $5,439,000 into a settlement fund after a preliminary class action settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit against the university seeking partial tuition refunds for the spring 2020 semester.
of lawsuitwas filed in May 2020 and alleges the university broke an implied contract to provide in-person instruction to students in exchange for tuition. We have moved our classes online In March 2020, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
On January 10, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted preliminary approval to a $5.439 million class action settlement between the university and a group of approximately 7,000 eligible students. Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, each of the three named plaintiffs will receive a merit award of up to $7,500, and the remainder of the settlement will be distributed to the remaining students. Under the terms of the preliminary settlement, it is not guaranteed that no more than 33 percent of the settlement proceeds (equivalent to up to $1,812,818.70) will be used for attorney fees and other costs.
“In response to a class action lawsuit filed against AU in connection with the transition to distance learning, AU has agreed to a settlement that received preliminary approval from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “AU denies all allegations raised in the lawsuit,” said Elizabeth Diehl, the university's assistant vice president for community and internal communications.
Eligible recipients include Australian undergraduate students who enrolled at the university in the spring 2020 term and paid their tuition fees and other fees. According to one report, students are expected to receive between $400 and $475 under the proposed settlement. news Preliminary settlement funds sent to eligible students.
The case was initially dismissed by a lower court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rescinded the dismissal The AU lawsuit was filed in tandem with a lawsuit filed against George Washington University, which alleges GW similarly violated contracts with students to provide in-person instruction in exchange for tuition. The court accepted the plaintiff's argument that the university “breached an implied de facto contract regarding in-person instruction” when it transitioned to virtual instruction.
The case went before Judge Christopher R. Cooper in the District Court of the District of Columbia in April 2023, who upheld the plaintiffs' claims against AU.
Based on the terms of Provisional paymentthe university “denies all claims of wrongdoing, liability, and damages asserted through the litigation claims, and AU affirms that the litigation claims are appropriate as class treatment if the litigation proceeds in court.'' In addition, upon receipt of the settlement proceeds, members of the Settlement Class will lose the right to bring suit against AU alleging breach of contract regarding AU's tuition or fees during the Spring 2020 semester. .
Eligible students may object to the terms of the preliminary settlement or choose to opt out of the settlement. This means that you will not receive any winnings, but you will retain the right to sue AU on any litigation issues until April 1, 2024.
The court will hold a final approval hearing on May 7, during which it will hear objections and arguments and decide whether to approve the proposed settlement terms.
According to Deal, Eqip Class Actions and Claim Solutions will oversee the administration of the settlement fund and additional information regarding the settlement and claims process can be found at Class action website.
This article was edited by Tyler Davis, Abigail Turner, and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing by Luna Jinks and Isabelle Kravis.