College leaders are considering many factors as they make their plans for a fall semester amid a global pandemic. Among their considerations: student and worker safety, government guidelines, finances — and the threat of lawsuits.
The American Council on Education, a lobbying organization representing more than 1,700 colleges and universities, sent a letter to congressional leadership last month asking Congress to enact “temporary and targeted liability protections” to shield colleges and universities from “excessive and speculative lawsuits arising out of the pandemic.”
At issue is whether students, faculty and staff can sue a college if they get sick while working or attending the school.
Right now, universities, like any organization, are required by law to exercise ordinary care to their grounds to make them safe for use from anyone who comes on campus to avoid causing injury or illness, said Kyle Logue, a professor at the University of Michigan’s law school who studies insurance, tax and tort law.