Suit Seeks Partial Refunds Over Lack of In Person Learning

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Cal Lutheran University student who lives in Los Angeles County is suing the institution, alleging he and other students are owed partial reimbursement for tuition and fees paid because they have been denied in-person learning due to the coronavirus.  

Nicolas Montalvo's proposed class action Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment and theft of property. Montalvo is asking that the university return a pro-rated portion of his and other students' tuition and mandatory fees, commensurate to the amount of time when classes switched to online-only learning.  

Montalvo additionally seeks unspecified compensatory damages and restitution on behalf of himself and other members of the class, which is comprised of students who paid tuition during the spring, summer and fall 2020 semesters, as well those students whose classes were exclusively moved to online learning at any other time. “Students at California Lutheran ... have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback and critique,” according to the suit, which also maintains that Montalvo and other students have been denied access to such integral components of a college education as libraries, laboratories, computer labs, recitations and study rooms.  

A representative for the Thousand Oaks school could not be immediately reached for comment. Cal Lutheran's tuition is about $45,500 per year for undergraduate students, who also pay least $482 in fees, costs comparable to those incurred by graduate students, according to the suit. “The university has elected to place the financial burden of COVID-19 entirely upon its students rather than offering discounts, rebates or refunds since the university was unable to provide students ... with the educational experiences and services that (Montalvo) bargained for, expected to receive and paid for,” the suit states.  

Cal Lutheran has not held any in-person classes since March 13, 2020, for undergraduate students, with all classes presented in a remote format with no in-person instruction or interaction, according to the suit. The Cal Lutheran website touts the school's on-campus experience and opportunities as a benefit to students, stating, “At Cal Lutheran, we're fortunate to guarantee housing for all full-time undergraduate students. We view living on campus as an important part of a student's complete educational experience,” the suit states.  

Cal Lutheran, a private university founded in 1959, offers numerous major fields for undergraduate students as multiple graduate programs.

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