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University of Florida Lawsuit Continues Over Overcharged Orientation Fees

A lawsuit charging University of Florida for rescission of contract and declaratory judgement because of overcharged orientation fees continues despite the university’s lack of response.  

Lisa G. Browning, a parent of a UF student who had orientation in the summer of 2016, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 20 against UF after she claimed she paid about $200 in orientation fees, according to court records.

Florida Statute Section 1009.24(14)(b) says that orientation fees must not exceed $35.

Browning’s complaint filed in court records said that she demanded a jury trial. A notice for the lawsuit was sent to the UF Board of Trustees, UF President W. Kent Fuchs and former UF Vice President of Student Affairs David Parrott.

Parrott was terminated on April 25 after a university investigation found evidence of improper financial administration with UF Student Affairs.

The complaint filed in court records said that this case is an action for damages exceeding $25,000, exclusive of interest, costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees arid for equitable and monetary relief.

Kyla Alexander is an attorney working this case under Browning’s attorney, Paul Rothstein. Rothstein was unable to speak about the matter. Alexander said the date of the trial is unknown and that there was no reply filed back from any of the defendants.

Alexander said this case is a class-action case, meaning that the affected people from this problem would have to be defined as a class in court if the court approves or certifies this case. If the court certifies the class, then the class would include students who paid for Preview above the statutory amount allowed.

“This case is about overpayment for a Preview fee,” Alexander said. “Going forward, the lawsuit would affect UF by looking back [in the past] and providing release [compensation] for those who have already paid [orientation fees].”

According to the Gainesville Sun, the UF orientation price was $90 in 2007, and the prices later rose from $125 in 2014 to $200 in 2018.

Other universities in Florida, such as Florida State University and the University of Central Florida, separate the orientation fee of $35 from other fees, such as overnight stays and meals.

Alexander said that the complaint filed under court records said that UF already took action to correct the unlawful allegations in the most recent orientation in the summer by allowing an option to opt-out of orientation.

UF spokesperson Steve Orlando had no further comments on the lawsuit because of the ongoing litigation except the statement he gave through email, which was also sent to The Alligator and the Gainesville Sun.

“It came to our attention that we needed to increase the clarity and ease of our Preview registration program,” Orlando said in an email. “We immediately took action to revise the Preview registration process, increasing the simplicity of selecting various Preview options.”

Stephany Matat is a freshman at University of Florida studying journaism and marketing. She has previously worked in her high school media and yearbook clubs, SOCIETY19, and Miami Dade College’s newspaper, The Reporter. Her hobbies are playing guitar and going to local music concerts. Her favorite bands are The Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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