Jan 3, 2023
The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) has agreed to pay $490 million in damages to survivors who were sexually abused by Dr. Robert Anderson. The majority of the more than 1,000 survivors are reported to be former male student-athletes.
The New York Times reported that the $490 million settlement represented one of the largest ever agreed to by an American university to compensate victims of sexual abuse.
Dr. Robert Anderson was a former university sports doctor who worked with thousands of student-athletes between 1966 and 2003. Anderson died in 2008, and a 2021 independent report commissioned by the University of Michigan concluded that he had sexually abused student patients on “countless occasions.” The report estimated that approximately 90% of the survivors were men.
The university stated that approximately 1,050 people will be included in the settlement, which was reached Wednesday through mediation following more than 15 months of negotiations. The allegations against Anderson date back to the 1960s, according to a report from the BBC.
How the damages will be distributed among the survivors will be determined by the plaintiffs and their attorneys, with the university having no input on the matter, according to a report from ESPN. $30 million is also being set aside for any future claims of sexual abuse. According to ESPN, payouts to survivors will not be equal, but rather determined by a third-party allocator based on “several variables.”
In a statement to media outlets, Jordan Acker, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, told reporters that the $490 million settlement will resolve all survivor claims.
“We must support healing and restoration of trust in an environment where safety is paramount,” Acker said. “This agreement is an important step in that direction.”
University President Mary Sue Coleman also indicated her support for the settlement agreement.
“This agreement is a critical step among many the university has taken to improve support for survivors and more effectively prevent and address misconduct,” she said.
Acker confirmed that the settlement still must be approved by the board. A vote is expected at their February meeting. Additionally, 98% of the survivor claimants must approve the $490 million agreement, as well as the court overseeing the suits.
The settlement agreement follows bipartisan Michigan state legislation announced earlier this month which would allow any Anderson accuser a 30-day window to file a lawsuit for damages, regardless of any time limits under the statute of limitations. Moreover, the legislation would bar the public university from using a government immunity defense to counter any claims.
Former University of Michigan wrestler, Tad DeLuca, was reported to be the first survivor to allege sexual abuse by Dr. Anderson. DeLuca sent a whistleblower letter to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, sparking an investigation and the aforementioned independent report.
DeLuca told the Associated Press that the $490 million settlement was insufficient, and that deeper systemic issues needed to be addressed.
“The settlement is going to gloss things over so Michigan can go back to having a glossy block ‘M’ and look wonderful for the world, but the situation on campus is horrible,” DeLuca said.
Former University of Michigan football player, Jon Vaughn, has been staging a sit-in at the school president’s on-campus home since October in protest of how the institution has mishandled the sexual abuse scandal. Despite countless reports of sexual abuse against Anderson dating back several decades, no action was ever taken by university officials.
According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), millions of men in the United States are survivors of rape. According to data compiled by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, the following statistics related to male sexual abuse have been confirmed:
Moreover, sexual violence can have long-term effects on survivors, particularly those who are harmed at a young age. For example:
– People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public.
– Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers.
Michigan’s proposed 30-day window allowing Dr. Robert Anderson survivors to file claims regardless of the statute of limitations is similar to California’s three-year lookback window under recent legislation known as AB 218.
Such ‘revival windows‘ by multiple states are an effort to allow sexual abuse survivors an opportunity at justice, no matter how long ago the crimes occurred. Under AB 218’s three-year lookback window, any California survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil lawsuit seeking financial damages until December 31, 2022. The bill’s lookback window has allowed thousands of survivors the ability to finally secure justice. However, after the 12/31/2022 deadline, most claims that have yet to be filed will be barred by the statute of limitations.
In addition to the three-year lookback window, California AB 218 includes a treble damage clause allowing the courts to award triple damages in cases where a cover-up of childhood sexual abuse is proven. For example, a $1 million settlement or verdict could be increased to a final damages award of $3 million in a case where a cover-up were proven by a plaintiff or their attorney.
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a leading California-based sexual abuse firm representing survivors across the United States. Founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, DLG offers clients a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by Dordulian, DLG’s experienced sexual abuse lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards. Some of our recent victories include:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
For a free and confidential consultation regarding your sexual abuse claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. DLG’s experienced attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.
To read more about California AB 218, click here.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.