Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or experiencing emotional distress, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or at https://988lifeline.org.
The family of Katie Meyer, the Stanford goaltender who committed suicide earlier this year, is suing Stanford University and other university officials, making allegations of wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress and six other charges.
Meyer, the former college soccer team captain and 2019 state champion, died in March 2022. She was 22 years old. Now her family has filed a lawsuit alleging that Stanford’s handling of a disciplinary proceeding involving Meyer led to her death, directly alleging that “the actions leading up to it [her] The death began and ended at Stanford University,” the lawsuit states sports illustrated.
“The tragic death of Katie Meyer resulted from Stanford’s egregious and reckless mishandling of the disciplinary process,” attorney Kim Dougherty said in a statement. “Stanford has known for years that its disciplinary process, according to Committee 10, is “overly punitive” and harmful to its students, yet the school and its administrators have done nothing to correct their procedures. Through this litigation, we will not only seek justice for Katie, but also ensure that the necessary changes are made to help protect Stanford students and provide safeguards when students need assistance.”
Meyer’s family filed the lawsuit Wednesday, naming the university; the school board of trustees; School President Marc Tessier-Lavigne; Deans and Associate Deans Lisa Caldera, Tiffany Gabrielson and Alyce Haley; Deputy Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole and General Counsel Debra Zumwalt. The Meyers also allege survivor lawsuits, breach of contract, breach of contract, violation of California Education Code Section 66270, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium. The lawsuit states, “Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charges and the reckless manner in which Katie was submissive caused Katie to have an acute stress response that impulsively led to her suicide.”
According to the lawsuit, the disciplinary proceedings in question stem from an August 2021 incident in which Meyer allegedly spilled coffee on a soccer player who was accused of sexually assaulting a minor on Meyer’s team. Meyer’s father had previously told United States today that the disciplinary matter came from Meyer, who was defending a teammate.
The filing alleges that Stanford “selectively decided not to enforce formal discipline on the football player and he was allowed to play the entire season without real consequences.”
The player, who has not been identified, did not file the complaint with the Office of Community Standards (OCS) in Stanford and said throughout the disciplinary process that he “would make amends” and “did not want punishment that impacts their lives.” per the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Meyer met with Dean Caldera days after the alleged coffee spill incident and said it was an accident. After the conversation, Caldera filed a complaint with OCS, and Meyer received a letter in September 2021 saying it had been filed. According to the complaint, the letter contained “heavy legal jargon and ominous language,” and in correspondence three days later, Associate Dean Hayley acknowledged “that this is an inherently stressful process.”
Meyer met with Assistant Dean Gabrielson in September and spoke about the incident. Gabrielson continued the conversation with an email, saying, “You’re freaking out because you’re older and you want to go to law school… and the last thing you need is something to derail you,” says the lawsuit.
Meyer sent a formal statement on the allegations in November 2021, saying she had been “stressed out for months” and “feared an accident” would destroy her future. According to the lawsuit, Meyer also met with exercise psychologists and spoke about her increasing anxiety and depressive symptoms.
According to the lawsuit, Meyer had no contact with the OCS office from November 21, 2021 to February 25.
Based on the filing, it’s unclear whether Meyer viewed an email she received from the office on February 25 that indicated she would soon learn of a “formal prosecution decision on this matter.” She believed the trial was over because she hadn’t heard from the office in months and she had been selected for prestigious honors by the university, according to the lawsuit.
On the night of February 28, Meyer received a five-page, one-line letter from the OCS accusing it of “violating the fundamental standard.” According to the lawsuit, it contained “language assumptions of guilt.” Part of the complaint states: “The bailiff will determine that there is sufficient evidence to bring a formal charge when he/she concludes that a fair panelist has found the allegation(s) to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.” could hold .” The lawsuit emphasized the phrases “there is sufficient evidence” and “believe the allegation(s) to be true beyond a reasonable doubt”.
The letter also indicated that Meyer’s diploma would be on hold and the charges she faced could result in her deportation. She received the letter on the last day Stanford could file charges, as the school must do so within six months of an incident.
According to the lawsuit, Meyer promptly responded that she was “shocked and upset” by the letter, and Stanford responded moments later with an appointment to meet, but didn’t address her concerns. Computer forensics showed Meyer researching how to defend herself and looking back at the letter and attachments.
The filing reads: “Stanford did not respond to Katie’s distressed expression, instead ignoring it and scheduling a meeting via email three days later. Stanford staff have made no effort to verify Katie’s welfare, whether through a simple phone call or a personal welfare check.”
Meyer was found dead in her dormitory on March 1. According to the lawsuit, the OCS letter was open on her computer screen at the time of her death.
Before her death, Meyer planned to attend Stanford law school and wait to hear about the school’s decision.
The Meyer family demands reparations, damages and other relief. Meyer’s family also started the Katie Save project with the goal of “helping students navigate the dynamics of campus life, which can be complicated by the added pressures of academics, sports, performing arts and other activities,” according to them the website.
Stanford spokesman Dee Mostofi addressed the claims of the lawsuit in a statement to ESPN.
“The Stanford community continues to mourn Katie’s tragic death and we join her family in the unimaginable pain that Katie’s death has caused them,” Mostofi wrote. “However, we strongly disagree with any claim that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not yet seen the Meyer family’s formal complaint, we are aware of some of the claims in the filing that are false and misleading.