Recently the LA Times and the SF Chronicle both reported that the University of California has been told by the courts to pay professional school students back a total of 38 million dollars from their professional school degree fees (PDFs). As the SF Chronicle reports:
“The ruling Thursday by Superior Court Judge John Munter applies to students who accepted an offer of admission in one of the programs – law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, pharmacy or business – by August 2003.”
Is the UC really going to pay students back? Why do professional school students receive this amazing gift?? And why is it the second time it’s happened to professional school students??? SO LUCKY! All these questions and more answered…in the breakdown.
The case is called Luquetta v. Regents, it’s a student fee class action. It’s actually based on an earlier student fee class action, that was successful, called Kashmiri v. Regents (it should be noted that “Regents” in the lawsuit, aren’t actually the individual Regents, but the UC Regents as representatives of the University of California as a whole. So, thank goodness, professional students are not suing me for 38 million dollars, rather, they are suing the University I represent).
Kashmiri v. Regents went something like this. In the year 2003, this really smart law school homie called Mo Kashmiri (really great guy, also followed Schwarzenegger around in a chicken suit during his first gubernatorial election to push him into debating his opponents), sued the University because the UC had raised his professional school fees in the middle of the year (much like what we did this year). He argued that the statements in the University catalogue and the Budget Office website that ensured that the Professional School Fee would be maintained throughout the year had created a contractual obligation between students and the University that the PDF would not be raised midyear. Kashmiri won the case, professional students got back around 40 million dollars.
The Catch: the University at that time was broke…so in order to find 40 million dollars that they didn’t have…they raised undergraduate student fees to pay for the lawsuit. Go figure.
Fastfoward to 2010 – Luquetta v. Regents makes the same argument. However, this time, the UC actually removed all language from the Budget website and their publications saying anything maintaining a PDF throughout the year, taking away the contractual obligation that was argued in Kashmiri. Luquetta argues that previous publications of the UC still maintains that contractual obligation, the UC disagrees and says that none of those previous publications were passed forward to this cohort’s grad students. The Court in SF agrees with Luquetta, UC has to refund 38 million dollars AGAIN.
However, UCRegentLive suggests all professional school students to hold on before they start purchasing banks like they got their mid-year fee increase back…this was just the first trial. It’s very likely that the UC will appeal the case, I think they believe they have a very strong case. So the story definitely isn’t over, but definitely had a very flashy beginning.