Two students who are suing Miami University over claims they were wrongly suspended for violating the university’s COVID-19 policies have been temporarily reinstated to Miami by a state judge.
The students, referred to as Jane Doe and Jane Roe, sued Miami in the Ohio Court of Claims Nov. 12. The students claimed they were unfairly suspended for having a party with more than 10 participants.
The judge, Dale Crawford, approved a request made by the students’ attorneys to temporarily reinstate the students at Miami for at least 14 days.
“Defendant Miami University is ordered to immediately reinstate, by close of the business day on November 17, 2020,” court documents signed by Crawford read.
Leslie Albeit, one of the attorneys for the students, said this is just the first step to getting the students back in school for the duration of the litigation. In mid-December, Albeit and her co-counsel will be filing documents in the attempt to allow the students to remain at the university for the entirety of the trial.
“The judge will decide on whether or not suspension is essentially stayed for the pendency of the entire litigation rather than just this emergency basis that lets them finish their semester,” Albeit said.
Miami’s attorneys, Medora Akers and Beth Bryan, submitted their opposition to the temporary reinstatement of the students. They said Miami has taken aggressive action on COVID-19 enforcement.
“At its core, this case is [a] challenge to Miami’s disciplinary process and an attempt at a ‘do over’ dressed up as a breach of contract claim,” the document read. “Miami is committed to the success and advancement of each of its students, but it cannot abide behavior that jeopardizes the well-being and safety of the University community.”
Akers also wrote it was clear at the time of the students’ gathering in August that COVID-19 was highly contagious.
“[The] plaintiffs are simply unhappy with their suspension,” the document read. “But they do not get a do-over in this Court.”
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Akers did not respond to requests for comment.
Eric Long, Albeit’s co-counsel, said Miami’s “heavy-handed” approach could jeopardize the future of many students.
“The whole purpose for filing this,” Long said, “is to make sure that their record and reputation isn't damaged in a permanent way.”