Florida Judge Monica Brasington refused to dismiss a potential class-action lawsuit against the University of Florida which says the school should refund the fees to students who were forced to study from home during the COVID-induced school year.

If it is considered a class action lawsuit, then Anthony Rojas’ lawsuit against the university, would likely affect tens of thousands of students who were forced to study and learn from home when the university shut campus down during the pandemic.

“It is the court’s finding that, at this stage of the litigation, plaintiff has adequately (pleaded) the existence of an express contract between himself and UF in which plaintiff agreed to pay fees in exchange for specific services to be provided by UF during the spring 2020 and summer 2020 semesters, in accordance with (a section of state law), and its corresponding regulations,” Brasington wrote.

Specifically, the fees requested to be refunded are things like activity and transportation-related fees. Attorneys for Rojas specifically noted they are not requesting tuition reimbursement.

“We are not challenging the required tuition or the ensuing diploma, but all of these other charges that were physically impossible to take advantage of during the height of the pandemic,” said Adam Moskowitz, an attorney representing Rojas. “Some states like Georgia already agreed to reimburse such specific funds.”

Attorneys for the university said Rojas brought together a number of documents claiming to show the breach-of-contract, but the attorneys said an “express contract” existed between the university and Rojas which had not been violated.

“There is no contract between plaintiff and UF, let alone an express contract, thereby dictating dismissal of plaintiff’s breach of contract claim based upon sovereign immunity,” the motion to dismiss said. “Plaintiff’s request that this court accept various documents from multiple sources to arrive at an enforceable express contract does not comport with applicable law.”

Rojas’ attorneys pointed out a “financial liability agreement” showing fees which, they say, would suffice to constitute a broken contract.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Judge Monica Brasington” by The Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Photo “University of Florida Pugh Hall” by Spohpatuf. CC BY-SA 3.0.