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Indiana Supreme Court heard COVID-19 dispute involving Ball State

A Ball State University student is arguing to the State Supreme Court that his class-action suit for a refund should be allowed to continue, despite lawmakers blocking it.

Keller Mellowitz was enrolled at Ball State University for the Spring 2020 semester when the university cancelled classes and closed campus facilities due to COVID-19. He filed a class action complaint against the university and its board of trustees.

The Indiana General Assembly enacted a law in 2021 prohibiting class-action complaints against state universities, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed.

Colin E. Flora, the attorney for Mellowitz, argued that the statute at issue here was not trying to protect the health and well-being of the students or tell them that they had to go home.

Attorney Colin Flora responds to questions from the Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 11. The chief justice questions how to determine if the law the legislature passed was predominantly policy-oriented.

Attorney Brian Paul argued that the legislature made a purposeful policy statement against class action suits, and that Ball State faced the prospect of defending against plaintiffs seeking to represent tens of thousands of other students.

Justice Mark Massa noted that Mellowitz still has an option to sue individually, but Flora said a class action is not feasible.

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