Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C., Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Northwestern University Seeking Tuition Reimbursement After COVID-19 Forced Classes Online

Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit on August 14 in Illinois federal court against Northwestern University over the school’s failure to reimburse tuition payments made by its students and others once the school canceled one week of classes in late March and then shifted to online-only classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our client, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, graduated from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering in June 2020. He, on behalf of himself and others who paid tuition to Northwestern, is seeking a prorated refund of the tuition, fees, and other related payments for in-person educational services, access to facilities, and related opportunities that Northwestern did not provide its students as a result of its shift to online-only classes beginning with its Spring 2020 Quarter.

In the lawsuit, our client alleges that once Northwestern announced on March 11 that it was canceling all classes from March 31, 2020 until April 3, 2020, and moving all future in-person classes online until further notice, the school could no longer deliver the in-person educational services, facilities, access, and/or opportunities its students and parents paid and contracted with the school for.

“This is a case about Northwestern dumping the majority of the burden and hardship caused by COVID-19 onto the shoulders of its students and their families,” said Jim Francis, a partner at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. “There is no good reason why Northwestern, an elite private school that proudly touts its $11-billion endowment, is forcing its students and their families to pay more than $56,000 annually in tuition alone for an inferior educational product.”

The class of people our client is seeking to represent in the lawsuit is made up of all people who paid tuition or fees to attend Northwestern when classes and/or coursework were limited in whole or in part to online attendance as a result of or in connection with COVID-19.

The lawsuit claims that Northwestern breached its contracts with its students and parents by failing to provide in-person instruction and access to on-campus resources for the Spring 2020 Quarter and continuing into the 2020–2021 academic year. It also alleges that the school was unjustly enriched by collecting full tuition and certain fees despite not providing in-person classes during those times.

“As Northwestern’s own marketing materials make clear, its students pay the school’s high tuition and fees to be on campus, to meet face-to-face with classmates and professors, and to take advantage of the facilities that prestigious institutions like Northwestern offer,” said Francis. “Without that on-campus component, Northwestern’s online-only classes are not as valuable as its in-person classes and are not worth the exorbitant tuition the school is charging for them.”

The filing of the lawsuit was reported by CBS Chicago and The Daily Northwestern.

If you paid a business or an organization for services or products that it failed to provide to you because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have a legal claim against that business or organization. Click here to schedule a free case review with a representative of Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. or call 215-735-8600. Located in Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco, we serve clients nationwide.