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Barry University $2.4 Million Covid Tuition Deal Gets Final Nod

Sept. 8, 2021, 7:52 PM

A $2.4 million settlement with Barry University, resolving a proposed class action seeking tuition refunds after in-person classes were canceled in spring 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, won a Florida federal court’s final approval.

Marlena Rosado alleged that students lost the benefit of experiences and opportunities when the university transitioned to remote learning.

The settlement, which plaintiffs say provides class members with about 60% of their anticipated recoverable damages, is a fair compromise in light of litigation risks, Judge Jose E. Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida said Tuesday.

Class members are entitled to receive a cash payment, tuition credits for future classes, or a credit for unpaid balances due to Barry.

The settlement was preliminarily approved in March 2021. At the final hearing, plaintiffs’ counsel said the entire settlement class of about 6,000 current and former students received notice of the deal.

One settlement class member opted out, and there were no objections to the deal.

The court also approved plaintiffs’ request for $800,000 in fees—33.33% of the settlement fund.

It denied the requested $5,000 service award for the class representative in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Johnson v. NPAS Solutions LLC, which said such awards are prohibited.

The proposed class action was one of numerous suits seeking tuition and fee refunds after the pandemic halted in-person classes.

Columbia University is in the process of finalizing a settlement. Southern New Hampshire University reached a $1.25 million deal that was tentatively approved in April.

Fordham University won dismissal of a suit in January. The plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint.

Kopelowitz Ostrow PA, Tycko & Zavareei LLP, and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw LLP represented the students. Jackson Lewis PC represented Barry University.

The case is Rosado v. Barry Univ., Inc., S.D. Fla., No. 1:20-cv-21813, 9/7/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com