Lawsuit against USF goes to state Supreme Court

The decision to not reimburse fees students paid for services that the university couldn’t offer during the pandemic is at the heart of the lawsuit. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

A lawsuit against USF will be reviewed by the state Supreme Court after a notice was filed by the university on Wednesday requesting the case be examined further, according to an online docket at the Florida Second District Court of Appeal.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2021 by doctoral student in the College of Education ValerieMarie Moore, claims USF still charged students for services it was not able to offer in 2020 since all classes were moved online due to the pandemic, according to an article from Florida Politics.

A court date had not yet been determined by the time of publication.

Moore’s case is not isolated, as at least 70 universities in the nation are facing similar lawsuits, according to an article from Expert Institute.

The state attempted to dismiss the suit against USF over sovereign immunity, or the legal doctrine that a state or state entity cannot perform a wrong and therefore is unable to be sued, according to the Florida Politics article. USF is a state entity.

This motion was declined in June, which allowed the case to continue its progression, according to the Florida Second District Court of Appeal.

One obstacle that stands in the way of Moore’s case is HB 1261, which was signed by DeSantis in 2021. The law protects universities from lawsuits linked to the closure of in-person operations due to the effects of the pandemic. 

In the original formal complaint filed by Moore, USF is urged to follow the actions of other universities, such as Lafayette College and Kutztown University, and begin the process of issuing partial refunds to students from services that were not provided.

“Some schools have already done the right thing and agreed to reimburse their students for these unused and unavailable services and charges,” the complaint said. “This lawsuit seeks to hold USF to this same standard of fairness.”