Class Certification in College Tuition Refund Class Actions
By summer 2020, class action lawsuits had been filed against more than 100 colleges and universities. Nearly all of the suits assert claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. In this article, published in Bloomberg Law, Edgeworth Managing Principal Sushrut Jain explores the significant hurdle plaintiffs seeking tuition refunds will face at the class certification stage of proving that a formulaic method exists to determine damages without the need for individualized inquiry.
In his article, Mr. Jain writes that in order to analyze the alleged difference in value between in-person and online versions of education, plaintiffs might look to borrow from formulaic approaches used elsewhere—such as in false advertising cases, where plaintiffs have previously had to evaluate harm based on consumers’ subjective valuations of a component of a product or service. In false ads cases, plaintiffs' experts have proposed two methodologies: hedonic regression analysis and conjoint survey analysis.
Mr. Jain explores the merits of applying these formulaic approaches to college tuition refund class actions, and finds that plaintiffs are likely to encounter challenges in courts due to the lack of available market data (hedonics) and the inapplicability of survey methods (conjoint) to determine harm to consumers.