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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A class-action lawsuit filed by two Daytona Beach College students against the country's largest collegiate-bookstore chain, which runs the UF Bookstore, was dismissed by a federal judge Monday.

The students, Thomas Rebman and Danny Brandner, claimed in 2006 that Follett Higher Education Group unfairly overpriced its books and under-compensated buybacks.

Rebman and Brandner sought class-action status on the suit on behalf of all students who attend universities that use Follett.

The U.S. District Court of Orlando concluded that the case, which sought to recover $5 million in damages from Follett, was not grounds for a lawsuit, and any financial losses the students suffered were not sufficient for the compensation they sought.

Follet's national representative could not be reached for comment, but Lynne Vaughan, director of UF bookstores, said the court's ruling proves Follett was in the right.

Christopher Peterson, an assistant professor at the Levin College of Law who specializes in consumer protection, agreed. The students' complaints were not legally sound, Peterson said.

"There's not a legal claim for overcharging," he said.

But Rebman, one of the plaintiffs, stands by his allegations.

"The reason they won the lawsuit is that they have a lot of money," he said of Follett representatives. "To this date, to be honest with you, nobody's looked at my evidence."

Rebman said he's not quite sure what to do next. He said he's spent thousands of dollars and several years on what he called "an exercise of futility."

Still, he said it was a worthy cause. He only hopes justice might one day come to pass, he said.

"The bottom line of this thing is that education is too important for all these dollars to be taken away," Rebman said. "It's really that simple."

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Jelaire Grillo, manager of Orange and Blue Textbooks, said she sees plenty of stunned faces when a price total lights up the cash register.

"Especially from the freshmen," she said.

When she heard about the lawsuit in 2006, she rooted for the two students because "we all know where they're coming from."

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