Lawsuit against Indiana University given class-action status

A judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging Indiana University breached its contract by providing substandard living assignments to thousands of students staying in residential halls where mold was found.

Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey’s ruling on Monday comes as Indiana University’s residence centers Foster and McNutt are being renovated, after mold was a problem during the 2018-19 school year.

Those projects made more than 2,000 beds unavailable at the residence halls, forcing students to live off campus. The renovations, which were originally set to take place throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, are expected to be completed by the start of the fall 2020 semester.

Despite efforts to clean up the mold, university officials agreed that only a full-scale renovation of the residence centers would eliminate it, The Herald Times reported.

So far, the project has progressed exceptionally well, said Tom Morrison, IU’s vice president for capital planning and facilities.

Plaintiffs are seeking to recover damages, but a dollar amount has not yet been determined, said Richard Shevitz, an attorney representing the students.

But the university has provided millions of dollars to students affected by mold issues as part of a reimbursement plan. IU President Michael McRobbie  announced the proposal in 2018. He also apologized.

The university’s Office of Insurance, Loss Control & Claims has provided $251,662.26 in reimbursements to students, according to an email from IU spokesman Chuck Carney. That money was used to help cover medical bills, replacement of personal property, laundry and relocation expenses.

The university also put $3,000 in the bursar accounts of each student living in the two residential halls, which came out to a total of $7,374,000, according to Carney’s email.

To address concerns about the breakout of mold on student’s academic performance, faculty were instructed to make accommodations, particularly in regard to assignments and exams.

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