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Indiana Supreme Court upholds ban on class action suits over higher education pandemic policies

A state law banning class action lawsuits against Indiana colleges and universities over their COVID-19 policies is constitutional, according to a new ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court.

The decision issued Wednesday comes from a student’s lawsuit against Ball State.

Keller Mellowitz sued Ball State, seeking a refund after in-person classes were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. And he sued on behalf of himself and other students — a class action.

But the Indiana legislature passed a law, HEA 1002-2021, banning class actions against higher education institutions related to their handling of COVID-19. Mellowitz argued that law was unconstitutional because it interfered with court procedures, which should be the sole purview of the judiciary.

READ MORE: Indiana Supreme Court considers striking down law shielding higher ed from COVID-19 class-actions

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The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. Justice Derek Molter wrote that the 2021 law is narrow enough — only applying to COVID claims against higher education in a limited period of time. Molter’s opinion also said that because of its narrow scope, the law clearly pursues a public policy objective, which is the purview of the legislature.

Mellowitz and other students can still sue; they just have to do so individually.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit .

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.