The parents of Katie Meyer, the star soccer goalie at Stanford who died by suicide last spring, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.
According to the lawsuit, Meyer, a former captain of the soccer team and 2019 national champion, was facing disciplinary action by Stanford at the time of her death. She allegedly spilled coffee on a football player while riding her bike.
The football player allegedly had sexually assaulted one of Meyer’s teammates, who at the time was a minor, according to the lawsuit.
Meyer’s father told USA Today that his daughter had been defending the teammate.
On the night of her death, Meyer’s parents said they spoke with her via FaceTime about spring break plans. According to her mother, she was in a good mood. But later that evening, Meyer received a formal disciplinary notice via email from Stanford totaling six pages.
The lawsuit states that the email was sent “negligently and recklessly” and that it “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and potential ‘removal from the university.’” By the time Meyer received the email at 7 p.m., Stanford’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services was closed.
Meyer was found dead in her dorm room the next day. An autopsy confirmed the manner of death was from suicide.
In addition to wrongful death, the lawsuit also charges the university with Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress and related actions.
“Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charge, and the reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie, caused Katie to suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,” the lawsuit states. “Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply distressing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources.’
“Katie, sitting alone in her dorm room, when it was dark outside, immediately responded to the email expressing how ‘shocked and distraught’ she was over being charged and threatened with removal from the university,’’ the complaint continues. “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.’’
In a statement to multiple media outlets, Stanford spokesperson Dee Mostofi refuted the lawsuit’s claims.
“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,” Mostofi added.