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The family of Katie Meyer, a soccer star who died by suicide last spring, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stanford University and several administrators alleging that their actions surrounding possible disciplinary action caused her “suffering from pain.” an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to his suicide.
Meyer, a senior who helped win the 2019 NCAA championship title for Stanford, was found dead in her dorm in March. Shortly before his death, Meyer was facing repercussions after standing up for a teammate on campus, his parents said in the days following his suicide.
“The actions that led to Katie Meyer’s death began and ended with Stanford University,” the lawsuit alleges, and makes public for the first time details of the allegations that triggered the potential disciplinary action.
In August 2021, Meyer was riding her bike when she allegedly spilled coffee on a football player who allegedly sexually assaulted one of his underage teammates, according to the lawsuit.
In response to this incident, Meyer received a formal charging letter from Stanford’s Office of Community Standards, advising him of impending disciplinary action, the lawsuit states. The letter was emailed to him on the evening of his death and exactly six months after the spilled coffee incident, according to the lawsuit.
“We are deeply troubled and disappointed by what we have learned since her passing and have no choice but to move forward with litigation to seek justice for Katie and protect future students,” said the Meyer family in a statement.
In a statement to CNN, Stanford University spokesperson Dee Mostofi refuted the lawsuit allegations.
“The Stanford community continues to mourn Katie’s tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain Katie’s passing has caused them,” Mostofi wrote.
“However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for his death. Although we have not yet seen the formal complaint filed by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the record, which are false and misleading,” Mostofi added.
According to the lawsuit, the letter “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and possible ‘dismissal from college.'”
“The official disciplinary charge letter related to the spilled coffee also informed Katie that her degree was suspended only three (3) months before graduation; threatening her status as a Stanford student, captain and member of the football team, residential counselor, Mayfield scholar, innovative defense scholar, and her ability to attend Stanford Law School, among other things.
After receiving the letter, Meyer immediately responded to the email, telling the university she was “shocked and upset” by the action, according to the lawsuit.
“Stanford employees weren’t supportive of Katie when she expressed feelings of despair, she was ‘terrified that an accident would destroy my future’, and she had been ‘afraid for months that my clumsiness would ruin my chances of leaving. Stanford on a high “…and experiencing a great deal of ‘anxiety’ related to the OCS process,” the lawsuit further states.
According to Mostofi, the university’s spokesperson, the letter to Meyer also contained “a number to call for immediate support and was specifically advised that this resource was available to him 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“It is important to emphasize that we are committed to supporting students throughout the student legal process under OCS, and we have done so in this case. In particular, the university offered Katie a counselor to work with her through the process and told her that she could have a support person of her choice with her during any meeting or conversation with OCS,” said added Mostofi.
Noting that Meyer had no history of mental illness, the lawsuit further details the plans she had made in the days leading up to her death, including buying plane tickets, planning a birthday party and participation in football lessons and training as usual.