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A lawsuit against Florida State University over the pandemic shutdown is moving forward

students walk on the FSU campus
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
Students take the Legacy Walk to get to classes on the FSU campus, Sept. 13th, 2021.

A potential class-action lawsuit will continue about whether Florida State University should refund money to students because of a campus shutdown early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorneys for named plaintiff Harrison Broer filed a notice Wednesday that is a first step in asking the 1st District Court of Appeal to take up the case, which is similar to lawsuits filed against colleges and universities in other parts of Florida and across the country.

The case contends that FSU students should receive partial refunds of tuition and fees that they paid for on-campus classes and services. FSU shut down its campus in spring 2020 because of the pandemic, temporarily forcing students to take online classes.

Broer was an FSU law student, and the lawsuit contends FSU breached contracts with him and other students. But Leon County Circuit Judge J. Layne Smith last month dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting the breach-of-contract allegations.

“Plaintiff and FSU did not enter into an express contract to provide services or in-person instruction from the spring semester in exchange for the payment of student fees. … Similarly, this court finds that plaintiff and FSU did not enter into an express contract to return payment of student fees or tuition under the circumstances pled, or to guarantee in-person instruction or a campus operated free from interruption,” Smith wrote.

As is common, the notice filed Wednesday does not detail arguments that Broer’s attorneys will make at the Tallahassee-based appeals court.