BYU student plans to drop pandemic lawsuit

A sign posted outside the Richards Building in March 2020 announces the closing of BYU facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A BYU student who sued the university for its handling of the pandemic has decided to drop his case. (Hannah Miner)

A student suing BYU in response to its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic plans to drop his case. 

Chase Hiatt, 20, filed a lawsuit against BYU on Aug. 5, 2020, citing breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The class action suit accused BYU of providing insufficient alternatives for the expected college experience Hiatt paid for.

BYU is scheduled to Hiatt’s complaint on Feb. 19 unless Hiatt backs out of the case before then.

Hiatt, from Bountiful, told The Daily Universe on Feb. 2 that he regretted suing BYU.

“The university has done a great job handling everything, they’ve been really professional and conscientious and they don’t deserve to get hit with a lawsuit,” Hiatt said. “The whole thing isn’t BYU’s fault and they’re doing their best, so what more can I ask for?”

Hiatt also called his lawsuit “a waste of resources,” “a disaster,” and “really unnecessary.”

“BYU strongly believes the lawsuit’s claims lack merit,” university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told The Daily Universe. “In spite of the limitations necessarily imposed by the global pandemic, BYU has been working tirelessly to continue to provide our students with a superb education.” 

Jenkins said other universities have not decreased their fixed costs either and that BYU has dealt with unexpected additional costs including COVID-19 testing, cleaning supplies and high-quality cameras for remote instruction. A similar case to Hiatt’s regarding COVID-19 concerns was previously brought against BYU-Idaho and dismissed, Jenkins said. 

Hiatt said he felt “scammed” when his tuition money didn’t grant him the experience he hoped for, but he later realized the low cost of BYU made the argument negligible. 

BYU’s low tuition rates for its size, quality and reputation have consistently earned the university a top ranking among the best-valued schools in America, Jenkins said.

“BYU’s pandemic response has required substantial effort and financial resources to continue to provide an excellent, low-cost education, but BYU remains committed to fulfilling its mission and supporting its students,” Jenkins said.

Hiatt said he values his online education and plans to graduate from BYU this spring.

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