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Stanford Soccer Star’s Parents File Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Daughter’s Suicide

— November 24, 2022

Meyer’s parents claim that Stanford’s alleged mishandling of disciplinary proceedings drove their daughter to take her own life.

The family of Stanford soccer star Katie Meyer have filed a lawsuit against the California university, seeking compensatory damages for wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a half-dozen other claims.

According to Sports Illustrated, Meyer—the former captain of Stanford’s women’s soccer team—died by suicide in March 2022.

Now, Meyer’s family claims that the Stanford’s alleged mishandling of a disciplinary process “led to [her] death.”

“Katie Meyer’s tragic death resulted from Stanford’s egregious and reckless mishandling of its disciplinary process,” Meyer family attorney Kim Dougherty said in a statement. “Stanford has known for years that its disciplinary process, in its own Committee 10’s words, is ‘overly punitive’ and harmful to its students, yet the school and its administrators have done nothing to correct its procedures. Through this litigation we will not only obtain justice for Katie, but also ensure necessary change is put into place to help protect Stanford students and provide safeguards when students are in need of support.”

The lawsuit notes that Stanford initiated disciplinary proceedings against Meyer after she purportedly spilled coffee on a football player who had been accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

In the complaint, the Meyer family suggests that Stanford “selectively determined not to follow through with any formal discipline for the football player and he was allowed to play the entire season without any real consequence.”

Stanford University. Image via Flickr/user:Harshil Shah. (CCA-BY-2.0)

Shortly after the incident, Meyer met with Stanford University Associate Dean Lisa Caldera.

During her meeting with Caldera, Meyer said that she had inadvertently and accidentally spilled her coffee on the football player.

Nevertheless, Caldera escalated the complaint to the Office of Community Standards, which issued a letter containing “heavy legal jargon and threatening language.”

Sports Illustrated reports that Meyer complained of being “stressed,” fearing that her plans of going to law school could be derailed.

However, the Office of Community Standards did not send Meyer any further correspondence between 21 November, 2021, and 25 February, 2022.

On 28 February, Meyer—who believed the matter had been closed—received another message that seemed to imply she had been found guilty of violating the university’s disciplinary code.

The letter also said that Meyer’s diploma would be put “on hold” and that she could be expelled.

Meyer responded to the email and conveyed that she was “shocked and distraught.”

However, the lawsuit claims that “Stanford failed to respond to Katie’s expression of distress, instead ignored it and scheduled a meeting for 3 days later via email. Stanford employees made no effort whatsoever to check on Katie’s well-being, either by a simple phone call or in-person welfare check.”

Meyer was found dead in her dorm room shortly afterward, on 1 March, 2022.

Stanford spokesperson Dee Mostofi said that, while the university extends its sincerest condolences to the Meyer family, the institution does not believe that it is legally liable for her suicide.

“The Stanford community continues to grieve Katie’s tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain that Katie’s passing has caused them,” Mostofi wrote. “However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not yet seen the formal complaint brought by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the filing, which are false and misleading.”


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