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Judge rules lawsuit against MSU can continue

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A Lewis and Clark County judge ruled last week that a lawsuit filed against Montana State University alleging it breached its contract with students when it shifted to entirely remote learning in 2020 can continue, despite the university’s request for dismissal.

Anthony Cordero, an undergraduate student at MSU during spring 2020, filed a lawsuit against the university in September 2020 alleging that when MSU transitioned to online learning during the pandemic without offering tuition reimbursement, it violated its contract with students.

MSU transitioned to full online learning on March 23, 2020, due to increasing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. The university resumed in-person classes again on Aug. 17, 2020.

In May of this year, the university filed a motion to dismiss the case. “(Plaintiff’s claims) must allege MSU’s conduct was arbitrary or an abuse of discretion, otherwise they are barred by the educational malpractice doctrine,” wrote MSU’s attorneys in a brief they filed in support of their motion.

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Michael McMahon ruled last week against MSU’s motion for dismissal. “Cordero’s complaint is not one for educational malpractice, but rather for breach of contract, and Defendants have failed to prove that he cannot present a set of facts for breach of an express contract,” McMahon wrote in his order, as reported by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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