Student urges Florida Supreme Court to reject USF appeal in COVID-19 fees case

A student’s attorneys argued Monday that the Florida Supreme Court should reject an appeal by the University of South Florida in a dispute about fees collected for services that were not provided early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

USF went to the Supreme Court last month after the 2nd District Court of Appeal refused to dismiss a potential class-action lawsuit filed by student ValerieMarie Moore. The lawsuit alleges that USF breached a contract with Moore and improperly kept fees paid by students. Similar lawsuits have been filed against colleges and universities in Florida and across the country after campuses were shut down in 2020, with courts coming to different conclusions.

In asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, USF contended that Moore did not identify an “express, written contract obligating petitioner (the university) to provide her with specific on-campus services.” It also cited a ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal that dismissed a similar case involving Miami Dade College.

But in the filing Monday, attorneys for Moore disputed that the ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal conflicted with the ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

“The fact that the courts reached different conclusions based on the unique facts of each complaint does not mean that they announced ‘conflicting rules of law,’” the filing said, partially quoting a legal precedent.

In another case, a divided panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last week ruled that an Alachua County circuit judge should have dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Florida over fees for services that were not provided.

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