Amended complaint includes additional survivor seeking to represent interests of other victims; references new deposition testimony of a former UM employee Easthope
September 1, 2020, Detroit, MI—(BUSINESSWIRE)—A new victim of Dr. Robert E. Anderson has come forward in an amended class action complaint against the University of Michigan, seeking to serve as a representative for the thousands of other students who were put in harm’s way by the school physician from 1968 to 2003. The amended complaint was filed by Lieff Cabraser, The Miller Law Firm, and Sauder Schelkopf, who were previously appointed as interim class counsel by Judge Victoria A. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, who is overseeing the litigation.
In the amended complaint, the survivor, who is referred to as Richard Roe, alleges that Dr. Anderson abused him during four visits for annual physicals while he was an undergraduate student participating in varsity athletics in the 1980s. During the course of each physical examination, Anderson touched, fondled, and manipulated Richard Roe’s genitals extensively. Anderson always offered a rationale for the abuse, claiming he was demonstrating a way to “self-check for testicular cancer.”
Roe joins a John Doe, who also alleged abuse during six visits with Dr. Anderson from 1989 to 1993 and was the first proposed class representative on the original class action complaint filed earlier this year. In addition to these two class representatives, Lieff Cabraser and class co-counsel have been contacted or retained by several dozen other survivors who prefer to have their rights and interests protected by the class action complaint versus filing their own individual lawsuit.
The class action seeks to represent all students who were seen by Anderson at U of M between 1968 and 2003. If certified by the court, Doe and Roe would prosecute claims on behalf of the class of other former U of M students who were abused by Dr. Anderson, without them needing to hire a lawyer or filing their own separate lawsuit. The class action not only seeks monetary damages from U of M, but uniquely also seeks injunctive relief to force U of M to make institutional changes to prevent this type of abuse from ever occurring again.
Lieff Cabraser and Sauder Schelkopf, LLC previously served as co-class counsel in a case against the University of Southern California involving a student health gynecologist accused of abusing patients over a nearly three-decade period. A $215 million settlement approved last year provided compensation for every patient of the physician and additional payments for those who wanted to tell their story, while keeping their identities strictly confidential. USC also had to agree to implement certain reforms, with independent overseers who could raise concerns with the court if the goals and requirements of the settlement are not being met.
“For every victim of Dr. Anderson who is ready to come forward, there are dozens if not hundreds of others that understandably are not in a place where they feel comfortable doing so,” said Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case. “Victims have long been denied choice. This class action provides an option for survivors who may not want to hire a lawyer and put their name on a lawsuit, but still want to be acknowledged, hold U of M accountable, and see the school change for the better.”
The amended class action complaint also includes for the first time deposition testimony of Thomas Easthope, former U of M Vice President of Student Life and direct supervisor of Anderson, taken in this matter on July 28, 2020 and August 4, 2020. This information is redacted per a protective order that designates the entirety of Mr. Easthope’s deposition as confidential until the earlier of October 31, 2020 or the day of the public disclosure of the WilmerHale independent investigative report.
From 1968 until 2003, Anderson was employed by U of M as a physician. During his tenure at U of M, Anderson held numerous titles, including Director of Health Services, Senior Physician with Health Services, and Athletic Senior Physician. In his role as Athletic Physician, Anderson treated members of the wrestling, football, and hockey teams for nearly every medical ailment, complaint, and injury as their U of M assigned internist. He served as one of their first medical points of contact no matter the injury or ailment at issue, including everything from a cold to broken bones. Indeed, student-athletes were required to see Anderson even when they were not injured; regular physicals and checkups with Anderson were required for all student-athletes.
In all of these roles, and throughout the entirety of his employment with U of M, Anderson regularly and repeatedly sexually assaulted, abused, and molested students by engaging in nonconsensual sexual touching, assault, and harassment, including but not limited to medically unnecessary genital manipulation and digital anal penetration.