Court to hear arguments in refund of UF student fees levied during pandemic

Century Tower at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. [Photo courtesy: UF]

The First District Court of Appeal said Monday it will hear arguments next month in a potential class-action lawsuit that contends the University of Florida should refund fees to students who were forced to learn remotely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The university went to the appeals court in November after Alachua County Circuit Judge Monica Brasington refused to dismiss the case. It is one of the numerous similar lawsuits playing out in Florida and across the country. 

Plaintiff Anthony Rojas was a UF graduate student in the spring and summer of 2020 who paid tuition and fees. The lawsuit seeks prorated refunds of such things as activity fees, transportation fees, and athletics fees. It does not seek tuition refunds.

If the case is ultimately certified as a class action, it could affect tens of thousands of students who could not take in-person classes or participate in campus activities as UF tried to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Brasington’s ruling cleared the way for the university to face a breach-of-contract claim. 

The university has argued, at least in part, that it should be shielded from the lawsuit by "sovereign immunity," which helps protect government agencies in legal disputes. The Tallahassee-based appeals court scheduled arguments on July 20, according to an online docket.