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28 June 20222 minute read

DLA Piper obtains dismissal of COVID refund case for New York University and defeats class certification

On behalf of New York University (NYU), DLA Piper defeated class certification and won dismissal of a proposed class action lawsuit filed by a former graduate student seeking a refund of fees after the University transitioned to remote learning due to COVID-19.

In January 2022, US District Judge Colleen McMahon granted NYU’s Motion to Dismiss in part, dismissing all claims seeking a refund of tuition as well as the plaintiff’s claims for alleged violations of New York’s consumer fraud statutes, but permitted the plaintiff’s breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims seeking a refund of fees to proceed. Given that the only basis for federal jurisdiction was under the Class Action Fairness Act, Judge McMahon ordered expedited class-related discovery and class certification briefing. The DLA Piper team completed class-related discovery and briefed the plaintiff’s motion for class certification in less than five months. 

In denying the plaintiff’s motion for class certification, Judge McMahon found that the plaintiff hadn’t demonstrated that her situation was common to all members of the proposed class, that she had not shown that her claims are typical of the average class member, that she was not an adequate class representative, that her counsel were not adequate, and that individualized issues predominated. Judge McMahon dismissed the case but directed that it be held open pending her resolution of NYU’s motion for sanctions against the plaintiff’s counsel.

Keara Gordon (New York), co-chair of DLA Piper’s Class Action Litigation Practice Group, led the firm’s representation, along with partners Colleen Gulliver (New York) and Brian Kaplan (Short Hills), associates Rachael Kessler, Michele Korkhov, Gaby Velkes, Emma Jones, and Holly Clancy (all of New York), associate Haley Torrey (Philadelphia), and paralegals Athe Alcibar-Zucker and Val Fadis.