Santa Clara University Defeats Claims Alleging It Failed to Provide In-Person Instruction


On March 29, 2021, Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California dealt a major blow to the putative class action brought against Santa Clara University, where students sought a refund of tuition and fees after classes were moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The case was brought by three law students alleging that the university made a specific promise to offer in-person instruction and an on-campus learning experience, which it failed to do by implementing online classes during the pandemic. The students allege that this promise was made to the student body by, amongst other things, advertising “campus life” on the university’s website. In dismissing their claims, the court held that the statements made by the university at most constituted general promises or expectations, but did not create contractual obligations. 

This is a significant setback in the case and likely spells an end to the claims against the university. The court’s decision is also indicative of the likely outcome for the many other class actions alleging similar claims that have been brought against public and private universities across the county during the pandemic. A full copy of the court’s opinion can be found here
 

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