New class action lawsuit aims to force University of Michigan to change policies on sexual misconduct

ANN ARBOR, MI – A class action lawsuit filed Thursday seeks major reforms to the University of Michigan’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assault and campus violence.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is a companion to the class action lawsuit filed in March 2020 on behalf of survivors of the late UM sports doctor Robert Anderson who sexually sexed hundreds of former UM college and university students abused. Athletes from the late 1960s to early 2000s, an independent study by the WilmerHale law firm found.

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The class action lawsuit, filed on May 20, on behalf of all current UM students, said the university was aware of incidents of Anderson’s abuse and was covering them up. The lawsuit also relates to WilmerHale’s investigation which found that former UM provost Martin Philbert had committed sexual misconduct with several women and subordinates for decades.

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In both cases, the university’s failure to have or enforce appropriate policies and procedures creates an environment in which students are more likely to be exposed to sexual violence, the lawsuit said.

The complaint is led by UM junior Josephine Graham, who said she was concerned and concerned for her own safety and that of her fellow students because UM did not enforce appropriate policies and procedures.

“The Anderson case is one of many at UM rooted in the university’s ubiquitous and fractured culture that mirrors that of our larger society,” said Graham. “Gender-based violence is a complex systemic problem that requires systemic solutions to prevent and eradicate it. I am honored to be part of the solution that will hopefully lead to changes that will benefit current and future students. “

Graham alleges a violation of Title IX and is calling on the court to order the university to implement and enforce best practice guidelines and procedures, and to train and educate university staff specifically in the healthcare sector. The lawsuit is also looking for procedures to make it easier for students to report sexual violence and an independent observer to monitor and enforce the guidelines.

Progress in these areas should be reported to the court on a regular basis, the lawsuit said.

“Anyone who has been molested by Robert Anderson – including those who may not be ready to come forward – deserves the opportunity to hold UM accountable and hear their voice,” said Annika K. Martin, partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“It is important that UM not only recognize and acknowledge the survivors, but also ensure that this abuse can never happen again. UM has repeatedly failed to implement guidelines that put students first and accordingly this complaint seeks legal relief to ensure they do so. “

The university was not served and will investigate the complaint if it does, UM spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said.

UM finally decided with eight women for 9.25 million US dollars in the Philbert case. Attorneys are currently mediating in the Anderson case.


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