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The family of katie meyera football star who committed suicide last spring, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Stanford University and several administrators alleging that her actions surrounding possible disciplinary action caused her to “suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led her to suicide”.
Meyer, a senior who helped clinch the 2019 NCAA championship title for Stanford, was found dead in her bedroom in March. Shortly before her death, Meyer faced repercussions after defending a teammate on campus, her parents said in the days after her suicide.
“The actions that led to the death of Katie Meyer began and ended at Stanford University,” the lawsuit alleges, making public for the first time details of the allegations that triggered the potential disciplinary action.
In August 2021, Meyer was riding a bicycle when she allegedly spilled coffee on a football player who allegedly sexually assaulted one of his underage classmates, according to the lawsuit.
In response to that incident, Meyer received an indictment letter from Stanford’s Office of Community Standards, informing her of impending disciplinary action, the lawsuit claims. The letter was emailed to her the night of his death and exactly six months after the spilled coffee incident, according to the lawsuit.
“We are deeply concerned and disappointed with what we have learned since her passing and have no choice but to move forward with litigation to achieve justice for Katie and protect future students,” the Meyer family said in a statement.
In a statement to CNN, Stanford University spokesperson Dee Mostofi refuted the lawsuit’s claims.
“The Stanford community continues to mourn Katie’s tragic death and we stand in solidarity with her family in the unimaginable grief Katie’s death has caused them,” Mostofi wrote.
“However, we strongly disagree with any claim that the university is responsible for his death. While we have not yet seen the formal complaint filed by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the filing, which are false and misleading,” Mostofi added.
According to the lawsuit, the letter “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and possible ‘expulsion from the university.'”
“The formal disciplinary charge letter related to the spilled coffee also informed Katie that her diploma was on hold only three (3) months prior to her graduation; threatening her status as a Stanford student, captain and member of the football team, residential counselor, Mayfield Scholar, Advocacy Innovator Scholar, and her ability to attend Stanford Law School, among many other things.”
After receiving the letter, Meyer immediately responded to the email, telling the university that she was “shocked and distraught” by the action, the lawsuit claims.
“Stanford employees were not supportive of Katie when she expressed feelings of despair, she was ‘terrified that an accident would destroy my future’ and had ‘feared for months that my clumsiness would ruin my chances of leaving Stanford with a good grade.’ and experiencing significant ‘anxiety’ related to the OCS Process,” the lawsuit further states.
According to Mostofi, the university spokesperson, the letter to Meyer also contained “a number to call for immediate support and she was specifically told that this resource was available to her 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“It is important to emphasize that we are committed to supporting students through the student court process under OCS, and we did so in this case. In particular, the university offered Katie a counselor to work with her throughout the process and told her that she could have a support person of her choosing with her at any meeting or conversation with OCS,” Mostofi added.
Noting that Meyer had no history of mental illness, the lawsuit details plans she had made in the days leading up to her death, including buying plane tickets, planning a birthday party, and attending classes and practices. football normally.