A federal appeals court on Monday reversed a lower court, ruling that a student at a higher education institution may be entitled to partial tuition reimbursement after his school suspended in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Omar Hernandez, a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which has campuses in Chicago and Wheaton, Illinois, who had paid tuition for the spring 2020 semester, sued the university, claiming he had an express or implied contract with it that promised to provide personal instructional services and resources, which it had violated, according to the judgment of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago i Omar Hernandez v. Illinois Institute of Technology.
He also accused the institution of unjust enrichment in his putative class action lawsuit.
Hernandez sued the institution in US District Court in Chicago, which ruled in the university̵7;s favor.
When the lawsuit was reopened, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal referred to the Court of Appeal’s 2022 decision in Gociman v. Loyola University of Chicago, which it said involved similar claims, stating that there were no “meaningful differences” between the two lawsuits.
IN gociman, while the appeals court rejected the argument that there was an express contract between Loyola and the students, “we found that the student plaintiffs adequately stated claims for breach of implied contract under Illinois law, and that their claims were not complaints of educational malpractice in disguise, ,” it said when the lawsuit was resumed.
A concurring opinion said the judge agrees with the opinion “not because I think that Gociman was correctly decided,” but based on the admission, it is the controlling precedent.
“I urge the Illinois courts — the final arbiters of Illinois law — to take up and decide this matter as expeditiously as possible,” it says.
Other courts of appeal have also ruled in favor of the students in similar cases.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.