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USF is appealing a judge's decision over a COVID-19 campus shutdown

Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media

It's one of numerous cases across the county seeking refunds of money that students paid for services that were not provided because of the pandemic.

The University of South Florida is appealing a decision by a Hillsborough County circuit judge to certify a class action in a lawsuit about whether the school should return fees to students because of a campus shutdown early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorneys for the university filed a notice Wednesday that is a first step in appealing the decision by Circuit Judge Darren Farfante.

As is common, the notice does not detail arguments USF will make at the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

But Farfante last month approved a request by named plaintiff ValerieMarie Moore to certify a class action that would apply to students enrolled at USF in 2020 and the spring semester of 2021.

The lawsuit is one of numerous cases in Florida and across the country seeking refunds of money that students paid for services that were not provided because of the pandemic.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal last year refused a request by USF to dismiss the case.

Farfante approved class certification despite objections from the university.

“The court concludes that the proposed class is certifiable as a damages class … because common issues concerning USF’s uniform course of conduct, which resulted in all students being treated the exact same way and suffering the same type of readily quantifiable damages, predominate over individual questions about the amounts of fees paid by individual students,” Farfante’s Aug. 14 order said.

“A damages class is also the superior method to adjudicate this controversy because it allows the students, who all have small claims for damages, the ability to prosecute their claims in a manageable and effective manner.”

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