The Appellate Group

Rossi v. University of Utah

Rossi v. University of Utah, 2021 UT 43 (Lee, J.)

Contracts; Torts

Plaintiff was dismissed from her program at the University of Utah and subsequently sued the university, including for negligence and breach of contract. The district court dismissed her claims on summary judgment, reasoning that general policy statements would not sustain a breach of contract. On direct appeal, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:

  • Not all formal university documents are enforceable as contracts. The key question is whether an alleged assurance by a university is the articulation of a legally enforceable “promise” made in exchange for a promise or performance by a student. Here, Plaintiff failed to show that the university breached any legally enforceable contract.
  • While educators may have certain duties to students that could give rise to a negligence claim, educators do not have a fiduciary duty to students or a duty to provide an effective educational experience. Here, the district court likewise properly dismissed the negligence claim.

Read the full court opinion