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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

University proposed to pay $1,250,000 settlement in COVID case

In a settlement signed on June 30, the university is set to pay $1,250,000 to enrolled students in the spring semester of 2020 due to an “alleged breach of contract” when they transitioned to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The case, or “action,” was filed on October 1, 2020, according to the settlement. The five named plaintiffs and subsequent class members are requesting refunds of tuition, fees, and other charges because, beginning in March 2020, PPU provided classes remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The plaintiffs alleged that all PPU students who paid tuition and fees for this time had an “implied contract” with PPU that entitled them to in-person instruction; switching to remote education in response to the pandemic breached that implied contract. They also argued that PPU’s shift to remote education gave “rise to claims of unjust enrichment and conversion.” 


Students enrolled at the university after March 12, 2020, who were assessed tuition fees for the Spring 2020 semester and were enrolled in classes that switched to strictly online learning are eligible for compensation. Awards to the five representatives in this case are not to exceed $5,000 and attorney costs for the plaintiffs are not to exceed 35% of the settlement fund, according to the settlement. 


Also, according to the settlement, PPU has continuously denied all allegations of wrongdoing and that it “committed, or threatened or attempted to commit, any wrongful act or violation of law or duty alleged.” 


“Point Park is pleased to have this matter settled,” Lou Corsaro, director of public relations, said in a statement to The Globe. “We will continue to focus on supporting our students and delivering a world-class educational experience to each one of them.”


Francesca Bracey, a senior sports, arts and entertainment (SAEM) major, was a freshman living in Lawrence Hall when the pandemic first began.


“Returning home, switching to online learning was such a pain for both the students and the professors,” Bracey said. “I feel as if neither of us students and professors had time to process anything.”


Bracey said at-home obligations made it even harder to do online school and that the university “did not deserve” full tuition from students.


“Class wasn’t even full-time as it should’ve been,” Bracey said. “At that point, all we spoke about was the news and not much of the material we should’ve.”


Bracey also said that this settlement is “fair” and feels that this “irons out the kinks.”


“[The pandemic] wasn’t the university’s fault; it was a hectic time for everyone,” Bracey said. “It makes sense kinks needed to be ironed out, including this one… It’s us being reimbursed the money we never truly got back.”


Arianna Sanker, also a senior SAEM major, was a junior commuter living off campus during March 2020 and “didn’t know” the university was involved in a class action lawsuit but is “glad” to get some money back.


“My online experience was rough personally,” Sanker said. “I don’t like watching a computer and listening to a professor… I can’t focus, and I’ll fall asleep or do something else.”


Sanker said she does not think full tuition for the spring semester in 2020 was “worth it.”


“I was paying for things that I wasn’t even on campus for anymore,” Sanker said. “Why should I pay so much when I was literally at home on my laptop?”


Several other universities and colleges have experienced class action lawsuits related to the pandemic including the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University and Brown University. 


The final approval hearing for Point Park’s settlement is set for December 4 of this year. 


To learn more about the case, view the long form notice at www.ppsettlement.com.  

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