On July 26, 11 days after the University of Michigan attempted to reshuffle and reform its culture around sexual and gender-based misconduct with the creation of a new office, with the attorney representing survivors of abuse at the hands the late Dr. Robert E Anderson in the pending class action lawsuit against the University filed a response to the University’s motion to dismiss the complaint.
Although more than 70 individual lawsuits representing only specific plaintiffs have been filed in federal court, the current class action lawsuit is taking legal action against the University on behalf of all students affected by Anderson, even victims who do not. may not be ready to come forward.
The lawsuit, which accuses the University and its regents of allowing Anderson to sexually abuse students from 1968 to 2003, seeks damages from the University. Since October 2020, negotiations have been underway between the lawyers who brought the first class action suit and the University lawyer. A settlement would likely cost the University millions of dollars in payments to hundreds of alleged victims of abuse, including Regent Ron Weiser (R).
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, The Miller Law Firm and Sauder Schelkopf, LLC, have filed two class actions against the University. In March 2020, the first lawsuit was filed on behalf of survivors of Dr Anderson’s abuse, while the second lawsuit, filed in May 2021, sought a court order to reform the University’s policy on sexual misconduct. and sexist.
WilmerHale, a law firm hired by the University to independently investigate the allegations against Anderson, concluded in its report that there was “no doubt” that hundreds of the complaints were credible and that it there was a constant pattern of misconduct. He also made recommendations to improve the University’s practices and procedures regarding sexual and gender-based misconduct, similar in scope to the recommendations made by WilmerHale in his investigation into the sexual misconduct of former rector Martin Philbert. .
The University argued in its motion to dismiss the complaint that junior LSA complainant Josephine Graham, who led the second complaint, had to “wait until she was sexually assaulted before submitting her injunction requests.” However, the plaintiffs’ attorney’s rebuttal states: “In a stunning catch-22, UM also seems to argue that if she had ever been sexually abused it would also prevent her from standing.”
In their response filing, counsel for the plaintiffs also said, “UM argues that no one – neither the former students, nor the current students, nor this Court – has the standing or the authority to hold him accountable. It is not the law. ”
In an email to The Daily, university spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald of the Office of Public Affairs wrote that the university had no comment on the details of the dispute. Fitzgerald also cited recent attempts at reforming the University and its plans to update its current policy in the near future.
“The university has, for many years, continuously improved its approach to addressing sexual misconduct, including announcing on July 15 of a major overhaul of its approach,” Fitzgerald wrote. “We are also reviewing our interim policy on Sexual and Gender Based Misconduct, now that we have received updated guidance from the US Department of Education. We expect to finalize this policy in the fall. “
The filing of the response denigrated recent attempts at reform at the University.
“UM has not been transparent to the academic community and the public about the scope and nature of the reforms they claim to have implemented, and does not show that they have made the kind of best practice policy and app revisions Graham is looking for, “the answer reads.
The editor of the Daily Summer News, Jared Dougall, can be reached at [email protected].