The family of a standout goalkeeper at Stanford University sued the school after the student’s suicide in March, claiming the school should be held responsible for her death.
Katie Meyer, 22, took her own life in February after receiving a disciplinary letter from the university following an incident in August 2021 in which she allegedly spilled coffee on another student-athlete.
The student, a football player from the school whose identity has not been released, was accused of sexually assaulting one of her teammates, who was a minor at the time.
The lawsuit, filed by Steven and Gina Meyer Wednesday, alleges that Stanford “negligently and recklessly” sent her the formal disciplinary notice on the night of her death without properly vetting the August meeting.
It further stated that the warning contained “threatening language regarding sanctions and even ‘expulsion from college’, sending the star goalie into a deteriorating state of mind that would eventually destroy her life.”
It is currently unclear whether Meyer spilled the coffee on the footballer on purpose. She was reportedly riding her bike when she allegedly spilled the drink, the suit says, claiming it was an accident
The lawsuit alleges that the use of “heavy legal jargon and menacing language” caused their daughter to have “an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide.”
The filing contains claims of wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress and six other charges.
Katie Meyer’s family sued Stanford for wrongful death, claiming the disciplinary letter she received prompted her suicide
Her parents, Steven and Gina Meyer, have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the California school, claiming that their daughter’s suicide was “solely in response to the shocking and deeply disturbing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room sat without any support or resources. ‘
Katie Meyer, 22, took her own life in February after reportedly receiving a disciplinary letter over the moment she spilled coffee on a student accused of sexually assaulting a minor
Meyer, the team’s former captain and a 2019 champion, died in March this year, and the coroner later ruled her death a suicide.
At that time, the senior of the university had a knee surgery, and had plans to go to law school after graduation.
According to the lawsuit — which names the university, its board of trustees, deans and general advisers — the school’s letter threatened those plans, putting pressure on the football star.
It also revealed that the school never took any disciplinary action against the football star due to lack of evidence. Instead, it states, the legendary university turned on their daughter, seemingly to quell the burgeoning situation.
Attorney Kim Dougherty wrote in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s filing that Meyer’s death was the direct product of “Stanford’s egregious and reckless mishandling of his disciplinary process.”
“Stanford has known for years that its disciplinary process is, in the words of its own Committee 10, “overly punitive” and harmful to its students,” Dougherty wrote, “but the school and its administrators have done nothing to correct its procedures. ‘
“Through this lawsuit, we will not only get justice for Katie, but also ensure that necessary changes are made to protect Stanford students and provide safeguards when students need support.”
The lawsuit focuses on how on the night of Feb. 28, more than six months after the coffee spill incident, Meyer received notice from the school that she would face a disciplinary hearing to potentially face punishment for her actions.
Meyer’s was the goaltender for the Stanford women’s soccer team. The football captain, who was also recovering from knee surgery, reportedly received the message around 7pm on the night she died
Meyer immediately responded to the email, noting that she was “shocked and distraught” by the letter.
According to her parents’ complaint, the school responded by setting up a counseling session three days later.
By then, however, it was too late for the teen – and she was found dead in her dorm room the day after leaving what her parents said was damning correspondence.
The filing further alleges that Meyer received the message around 7 p.m. the night she died, when on-campus counseling had already closed for the evening.
In her response, minutes after having a Facetime conversation with her parents, she allegedly told the school that she had “experienced fear during the disciplinary process,” which had been going on for more than half a year at that point.
She said she had “feared for months that my clumsiness will ruin my chances of leaving Stanford in a good way,” and that a grade on her record would hurt her chances of a career in law.
Steven and Gina claim the school “ignored” their daughter’s distress during the seven-month disciplinary process and “made no attempt whatsoever to check on Katie’s well-being, whether through a simple phone call or a personal well-being check.”
The school’s assistant vice president of external communications, Dee Mostofi, meanwhile, said staff responded to her email “within an hour” and that she was “offered and chosen several available times.”[n] one three days later, despite the availability of an earlier appointment.’
She immediately responded to the email, noting that she was “shocked and distraught” at the letter and that the school had responded by organizing a counseling session three days later. Her parents argued that the school was neglecting their ailing daughter, but Stanford said it responded to her email “within an hour” and that the student chose the appointment
He also said the school contacted Meyer “several days” before sending her the letter to give her enough time to send additional information for consideration.
Mostofi said the student-athlete has not provided anything further.
In addition, the formal letter reportedly listed a phone number for an “immediate support” contact supposedly available 24/7 and the letter “explicitly stated that this was not a determination that she had done anything wrong.”
The footballer was reportedly not looking for a punishment that would “affect” the international relations student. According to USA Today Sports, he also allegedly told the school that he “wanted to make amends.”
Katie Meyer, 22, had shared photos of her after undergoing knee surgery last month
The footballer had posted a TikTok about her knee surgery a few days before her death
“We strongly disagree with any claim that the university is responsible for her death,” he said in a statement to USA Today Sports. He did say, however, that the “Stanford community continues to mourn Katie’s tragic death.”
The lawsuit also charges Stanford with negligent infliction of emotional distress and other relationship actions, according to USA Today Sports.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, contact the National Suicide Hotline at 988.