UM System facing class action lawsuit over lack of refund

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COLUMBIA - A class action lawsuit filed against the University of Missouri System claims the UM system did not offer sufficient refunds after classes were moved online in March due to fears of a COVID-19 outbreak. 

The lawsuit was filed by St. Louis attorney Richard Cornfeld, who represents the plaintiff identified as "A Student." Cornfeld said he believes students were not able to get the full value and benefits of being on campus.

According to the suit, MU students "did not receive the in-person educational experience that they paid for during part of the 2020 spring semester." It said the move to cancel on-campus activities and hold in-person classes online "deprived of the full value of the educational experience" they paid for.

In a statement from Christian Basi, the University said they "vigorously deny the claims asserted in this lawsuit. We are proud of the work our faculty and staff have done to serve our students during this time of global pandemic. Their work allowed the university to continue delivering education and supporting the needs of our students despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis."

Cornfeld said the UM System made the right decision by closing down campus, but in doing so, students did not receive what they paid for.

"The did some things but they did not do enough," Cornfeld said. "They should do refunds for everything students paid for and did not receive."

For its part, the university has taken some steps since classes went online. In their statement, Basi said they have provided the following refunds:

  • Room – prorated for the spring semester (approximately 45% refund for MU)
  • Dining – remainder of meal plans was either moved to the fall semester or a market value of the remainder was determined and refunded to students if they were graduating or didn’t plan to return in the fall.
  • Rec Center Fee – portion of the fee (approximately $80 for MU)

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