Student Urges FL Supreme Court to Revive COVID-19 Campus Closure Lawsuit

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COVID-19 Campus Closure Lawsuit

A University of Florida student on Wednesday urged the state’s high court to revive his lawsuit over the cancellation of on-campus services during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that sovereign immunity doesn’t bar his breach-of-contract claim against the college.

Representing UF student Anthony Rojas, Douglas F. Eaton of Eaton & Wolk PL told the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee that it should overturn the dismissal of his client’s lawsuit based on sovereign immunity. Eaton argued that the university was holistically bound by specific contractual terms to provide on-campus services in exchange for fees paid by students.

“Everybody agrees that there exists a contract here,” Eaton said. “The question is what are the terms? And I think we can all agree that if all of the terms we set forth in our statement of case and facts were included on a single piece of paper, with two signatures on it, with the party and the University of Florida, this wouldn’t be a case of controversy.”

Rojas, a graduate student, brought his suit against the university in May 2020, accusing it of breaching a contract and unjustly enriching itself when it didn’t refund certain fees after it shut down the campus during the pandemic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Eaton said that “university bulletins and publications” can also comprise a contract between the college and the student, including what’s stated on UF’s website.