NY Post: $100M Suit Looms Over CUNY For Remote Students’ Facility Fees During COVID
A Brooklyn College student is planning to go after CUNY in court for a lack of “excellence.”
Daniel Martin-McCormick has filed notice he intends to sue CUNY for $100 million, charging it collected thousands of dollars in “excellence fees” per pupil amid the COVID-19 pandemic while students were “not permitted to access or use CUNY’s equipment or facilities.”
The 37-year-old Ridgewood, Queens, resident is the lead plaintiff in the planned class action suit, which includes scores of individuals who paid the fees to CUNY that were not refunded with interest, the notice says.
Martin-McCormick, a student at CUNY’s Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema since the fall of 2019, has paid approximately $10,000 in “excellence fees” to CUNY, the claim says.
“Having to pay full price for the facilities while being denied access is an extra financial burden during difficult times,” Martin-McCormick, an electronic musician and event organizer, emailed The Post. “… Paying rent for studios we couldn’t access at all in the spring or summer, and in the fall could only access in limited capacity, was both a difficult expense to justify and a dispiriting obstacle as an artist. Moreover, it sent a message to the students that Brooklyn College only cares about the bottom line."
The notice of claim was served to CUNY and to the state Attorney General’s office Jan. 5, said attorney Israel Klein, who is representing the Queens man. Because CUNY is a state agency, the suit will be filed with the New York State Court of Claims, Klein said.
The suit will seek damages for CUNY’s alleged breach of contract, “fraudulent concealment and/or inducement, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment in connection with CUNY’s collection of “excellence fees” from students,” the notice of claim states.
Attorneys for the plaintiff will also scrutinize CUNY’s collection of “excellence fees” dating back to Nov. 3, 2014, when CUNY advertised the additional tariff.
The CUNY Board of Trustees of Trustees approved a resolution in July alerting 275,000 degree-seeking students and 6,700 professors at its 25 colleges and professional schools that there was a strong likelihood most classes would be virtual rather than in-person at their campus when classes resumed in September.
Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order back in March requiring all schools — including CUNY and SUNY institutions — to switch to virtual classes to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Students and parents at some colleges have complained the online classes are inferior to in-person instruction and have demanded tuition refunds.
“That CUNY would take advantage of its students is deeply troubling,” attorney Klein told The Post. “There is no justification for retaining funds for services and resources that were not provided.”
CUNY officials said they have not seen the notice of claim.