Law Prof: Campus Dorm Closures Will Lead to Class Action Lawsuits

CAMBRIDGE, MA - DECEMBER 16: A gate sits locked on Quincy Street at Harvard University during a bomb scare December 16, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Police were alerted at roughly nine thirty this morning of possible bombs at four different buildings on the Harvard campus. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf made the case this week that colleges and universities could face class-action lawsuits over their decisions to shut down residential halls due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

In an interview with ValueWalk, George Washington Law School Professor John Banzhaf spoke about the potential repercussions for colleges and universities that have closed their doors to students during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Banzhaf argues that institutions of higher education are opening themselves up to liability when they tell students that they must leave their residential halls. Some schools, however, may be protected by contract clauses that allow them to shut down residential halls during emergencies.

Unless the dormitory contract specifically and expressly authorizes the college to arbitrarily evict students prematurely in a situation such as this, colleges would have to rely upon potential legal defenses which are not at all clear, and possibly also contend with state and local laws designed to protect tenants which may establish time limits, require hearings and/or specific eviction proceedings, etc., notes Banzhaf.

Banzhaf believes that lawsuits against universities over dorm closures could be successful due to the fact that juries would likely favor students over large universities.

In any event, faced with students who may suffer major financial and other hardships, as well as serious disruptions of their lives, balanced against large educational corporation which often have huge endowments, and pay administrators and professors hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars a year, juries are likely to be much more sympathetic to the student plaintiffs than to the very rich educational corporations which are the defendants, predicts Banzhaf.

Regardless, Banzhaf believes that universities and colleges will begin to issue prorated housing refunds for students that were forced to leave campus.

Breitbart News reported last week that students at the University of Dayton engaged in riot protests after being told to leave campus. Students reportedly threw objects at police and jumped on cars. Local police were forced to equip themselves with riot gear to shut down the protests.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more updates on this story.

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