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Divided State Appeals Court Rejects Class Action Against U of Fla.

November 28, 2022

A divided Florida appeals court rejected, by a 2-to-1 margin, a proposed class action against the University of Florida over student fees charged as the pandemic first took hold, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Judge Rachel Nordby wrote that “assorted documents attached to the complaint do not constitute an express written contract.” She added, “We are sympathetic to [the plaintiff] and all other students whose on-campus experiences were clipped short and rendered non-existent by the university’s response to COVID-19 … And if there were a sufficient contract attached to his complaint, we would affirm the [decision of the] trial court [not to dismiss the case] without hesitation. But without such an express, written agreement … sovereign immunity bars the action.”

Judge Scott Makar dissented. Makar wrote that the “explicit language of the financial liability agreement, by itself, characterizes the relationship between the university and its students as an ‘agreement’ that must be construed in accordance with Florida law.”

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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