Tuition Reimbursement Suit Against The Manhattan School of Music Survives Bid for Removal

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


On July 20, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York Katherine Polk Failla, issued an order refusing to dismiss claims of breach of implied contract and unjust enrichment against The Manhattan School of Music (“the School”). The suit was filed by a class of disgruntled students who were forced to pay the school’s full tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester, despite the majority of the semester being fully virtual.

In the complaint, originally filed on June 11, 2020, named plaintiff Alina Flatscher describes how students at the School were charged $48,280 in tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year. In addition to the hefty tuition expense, students were also charged other fees by the school, including a general student fee, student health insurance fee, doctoral program fee, thesis research fee, thesis examination fee, application/audition fee, fees for credits exceeding degree credit limits, a course audit fee, damage/ judicial fines fee, graduation fee, instrument maintenance fee and a qualifying examination fee. In addition, students were responsible for purchasing a school meal plan.

The plaintiff further points out that in exchange for all of the fees and tuition students were charged, the school guaranteed students that its practice rooms would be open and available to students 24 hours each day and that state-of-the-art multi-track facilities capable of recording were installed in all of the school’s main performance spaces.

In March of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened worldwide, the defendant school moved all of its classes and performances to a fully remote platform. The plaintiff argues that the online classes were not effective and that connection issues and technical difficulties made her lessons impossible. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that despite having paid a graduation fee, all graduation services were cancelled and no refunds were given to students.

In the order, Judge Failla dismissed plaintiffs proposed claims of conversion and violation of New York’s Consumer Protection statute, but allowed claims of unjust enrichment and breach of implied contract to continue.

The case is: Alina Flatscher v. The Manhattan School of Music, Case No.: 1:20-cv-04496, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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