• July 24, 2014

U. of California Must Refund $38-Million in Fees to Students, Judge Rules

The University of California must pay a total of $38-million to thousands of former students who say the university illegally raised their fees after it had promised not to do so, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

The judge, John E. Munter of the Superior Court of San Francisco, ruled that the university had breached an implied contract when it raised fees for about 2,900 professional-school students who enrolled starting in 2003. The university had made a binding promise to those students that they would pay the same level of fees over the course of their studies, the judge wrote.

The decision is the second time the university has lost a class-action lawsuit over fee increases for professional-school students. In a similar case, Kashmiri v. U.C. Regents, the university was forced to pay $33-million to refund the fee increases of thousands of professional-school students who enrolled before December 2002.

This week's decision covers students who enrolled after those in the Kashmiri case, primarily in the 2003-4 academic year. University lawyers argued that those students should have known that their fees could go up because the university had already imposed a fee increase for other continuing students by the time they enrolled.

But in published documents, the university let its existing policy of not raising professional fees for continuing students stand until August 2003, Judge Munter wrote, creating a reasonable expectation that fees would remain constant for students who had accepted offers of admission before then.

Andrea Luquetta, a former law student at the University of California at Los Angeles and the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a written statement that the judge's decision was "a great victory for all my classmates who paid more in fees, and took on much higher debt, than what we originally thought we would have to pay to attend the University of California."

Christopher M. Patti, a lawyer for the university, said it was "looking very hard" at appealing the case but had not made a final decision. The California Court of Appeal rejected the university's appeal in the Kashmiri case in 2007.

Mr. Patti disputed the judge's conclusion that the later group of students had been promised consistent fees. "By the time these students enrolled, the university made it clear that it was no longer making the fee constant," he said. "So any reasonable person would have known that the policy that had been in effect previously no longer was."

Comments

1. petersimmons - March 12, 2010 at 04:22 pm

Where is mine? Peter

2. davidmo - March 12, 2010 at 04:37 pm

No big deal. California's current budget shortfall is somewhere araound $29 billion. This judgement only increases that by 0.13%.

Most of you probably read the headline and thought we were talking about real money.

3. _perplexed_ - March 12, 2010 at 05:05 pm

If I'm ever sued, I sure hoped the other party is represented by a lawyer who is a part of this class-- someone who believed UC would not raise fees.

4. lfchaparro - March 12, 2010 at 05:34 pm

An ungrateful lawyer, that one. Schooling at UC is the best and as such the cheapest when compared with crummy private universities. Now that UC is in trouble financially, he cannot afford to give that to the university?

5. lslerner - March 12, 2010 at 06:23 pm

More of California's remarkable race to the bottom. When I came to the state in 1962 public education was free or very close to it, and the state benefited enormously. Now we hear noises to the effect that Cal should charge fees comparable to those of private universities.
Après-moi le déluge!

6. macchardy - March 13, 2010 at 12:19 am

<Comment removed by moderator>

7. tonycontento - March 13, 2010 at 11:15 am


I'm sure that the state will waste a few thousand bucks sending them IOUs.

8. dxulib - March 13, 2010 at 08:06 pm

tonycontento wrote:
"I'm sure that the state will waste a few thousand bucks sending them IOUs."
_________

First, the state will send out a letter to everyone that is due an IOU that an IOU will soon be sent. Then the IOU letter will be sent. After that will be an actual payment, possibly.

9. cu_alum - March 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm

"By the time these students enrolled, the university made it clear that it was no longer making the fee constant," he said. "So any reasonable person would have known that the policy that had been in effect previously no longer was."

Nonsense. What matters is the policy in effect when the students accepted UC's offers of admission. Changes made later -- after the students had declined admissions offers from other schools in favor of UC -- occurred after the contract was in place. The students relied on UC's promise when they accepted, which typically happens in the spring. The university's claim that it had the right to renege until the students actually enrolled in the fall is wrong, both ethically and legally.

10. performance_expert - March 14, 2010 at 07:16 am

This equates to hush money to quell the rioting. "See kids, we paid, so stop protesting."

US really has been taken over and is being destroyed from within. If you are a regular person and want to be educated to be a professional to be a productive citizen, part of the price is paying lots of corporate rent in the form of interest payment on the cost of your education. It is quite a tidy scheme the bankers have installed. Combine that with IRS laws to smash small business and to enable corporations and there you have it, indenture and central power.

11. johnny6 - March 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

The saddest thing of all is that the following California industries DO NOT pull their tax weight and enjoy enormous subsidies ad perks to do their business while education gets cut:

(1) the prison and/or correctional system
(2) the entertainment/Hollywood system
(3) Silicon Valley (tech industry).

I say tax the heck out of these three greedy industries full of over paid managers and wasteful, contemptuous practices and give the mony to education.

But California's political establishment, regardless of the party, is so completely corrupt and disgusting that they will never make simple, glaringly obvious changes like this.

12. dank48 - March 15, 2010 at 01:14 pm

"So any reasonable person would have known that the policy that had been in effect previously no longer was." That is to say, any reasonable person would have known they were being lied to. Good for the judge. UC's logic here is disgraceful.

13. davi2665 - March 15, 2010 at 02:13 pm

Policy? What policy? It all depends on "what is is."

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