Spring 2020 fee class action settlement: short form notice

PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. If you were enrolled in a degree-bearing program at Cornell University (“University”) for the Spring 2020 semester, you may be eligible to receive a payment as part of a proposed Settlement of Alec Faber, et al. v. Cornell University, Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-467 (the “Action”).

In this Action, Plaintiffs alleged the University breached a contract when it transitioned to virtual education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs also alleged that the University’s shift to virtual education gave rise to claims of unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs sought a refund of a portion of their tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester. The University denies any breach of contract and denies all other allegations of wrongdoing, and there has been no finding of liability in any court. However, considering the interests of both the University and its students in prompt resolution of the matter, the University and Plaintiffs have agreed that the University will pay $3,000,000 into a Settlement Fund to resolve the Action.

Am I a Class Member? If you (1) were enrolled in a degree-bearing Cornell program for the Spring 2020 semester, and (2) were not enrolled in a program that, at the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, was intended to be delivered as an online program, and (3) did not withdraw from the University on or before March 1, 2020, then you are part of the proposed settlement class (a “Settlement Class Member”). If you are a Settlement Class Member, you do not have to do anything to participate in and receive the benefits of the proposed Settlement.

How Do I Get a Payment? You will be paid by a check issued by the Settlement Administrator to your last known mailing address on file with the University Registrar or as provided by you. You will first be provided a payment distribution email to be sent to your last known email address on file with the University Registrar, wherein you will be provided with a number of alternative payment options, such as PayPal or Venmo, and an option to donate your portion of the Settlement Fund to Cornell’s Student Access Fund. If you do not select a payment option, your check will be mailed. A valid email address is required to receive digital payment. If the email address you have on file changes or becomes invalid for any reason, it is your responsibility to provide accurate contact information to the Settlement Administrator to receive a payment. You must make your selection within forty-five (45) days after the Effective Date, as defined in the proposed Settlement. Payments will be issued sixty (60) days after the Effective Date, as defined in the proposed Settlement. The payment redemption period will end one hundred and eighty (180) days after the Effective Date, as defined in the proposed Settlement. The dates will also be posted on the Settlement Website at www.cornellfeerefundclassaction.com when known, but it will be some time after the Final Approval Hearing currently scheduled for December 13, 2023 at 11 a.m.

By participating in the proposed Settlement, you release your right to bring any claim covered by the proposed Settlement, including bringing any claim relating in any way to Cornell’s transition to virtual education or otherservices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in March 2020.

What Are My Other Options? If you do not want to participate in this proposed Settlement—meaning you do not want to receive your portion of the Settlement Fund, and you do not want to be bound by any judgment entered in this case—you may exclude yourself by mailing a signed opt-out request to the Settlement Administrator, which must be postmarked no later than November 9, 2023. If you instead want to object to this proposed Settlement because you think it is not fair, adequate, or reasonable, you may submit an objection, which also must be postmarked no later than November 9, 2023. Please follow the detailed instructions outlined in the Long-Form Notice and the Settlement Agreement, which can both be found at www.cornellfeerefundclassaction.com, to properly opt out from, or object to, the proposed Settlement.

What Happens Next? The Court has preliminarily approved the proposed Settlement, but the distribution of payments will occur only if the Court grants final approval of the proposed Settlement. The Final Approval Hearing in this case is scheduled for December 13, 2023 at 11 a.m. At that hearing, the Court will consider whether to grant final approval of the proposed Settlement, and whether to approve payment from the Settlement Fund of awards to each Settlement Class Representative for their service in this litigation. The Court will also determine the amount to award the Class Representatives in service awards, the amount to award to Class Counsel in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, and the amount for Settlement Administrator costs, all of which will be paid out of the Settlement Fund. The Motion for Final Approval will be posted on the Settlement Website after October 26, 2023. if you wish to review it before the Final Approval Hearing.

You are encouraged to review the Long-Form Notice, as it provides additional information. To review the Long-Form Notice, review other important documents, including the Settlement Agreement, and obtain more information about the proposed Settlement, please visit www.cornellfeerefundclassaction.com.

You can contact the Settlement Administrator by calling toll-free 1-866-573-3117, or by emailing admin@cornellfeerefundclassaction.com.

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub