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Friday February 3rd

Court confirms dismissal of spring 2020 unused student fee lawsuit

The Old Well is pictured on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.
Buy Photos The Old Well is pictured on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.

A unanimous N.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday that a trial court had made the correct ruling in dismissing Dieckhaus v. UNC Board of Governors. The case refers to unused student fees in the spring 2020 semester.

The case is similar to a lawsuit initiated by UNC senior Landry Kuehn and N.C. State graduate student Joseph Lannan for fall 2020 unused student fees. 

The plaintiffs argued that the University had failed to uphold an implied contract to provide the services for paid fees after COVID-19 shut down campus activities, an act which they argued was a breach of contract and “unjust enrichment.”

Chief Judge Donna Stroud said in the court documents that UNC was not liable to be sued due to the presence of sovereign immunity that allows colleges themselves to decide how to properly function. 

“As to Defendant’s argument, Plaintiffs failed to plead services ceased when students shifted to online instruction,” she said. “The Amended Complaint plainly states that transition included ‘closing most campus buildings and facilities, and canceling most student activities’.”

In Lannan v. UNC Board of Governors, the Appeals court ruled last year that the students could continue their suits regarding the fall 2020 semester under the premise of breach-of-contract. 

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