As reported by The Michigan Daily, the student sexual abuse case against Dr. Robert Anderson likely reflects the greatest number of sexual abuse allegations made against a single individual in U.S. history. The Daily’s article seeks to explain where things stand in the ongoing litigation against the University of Michigan for its mishandling of the situation.
The first class-action lawsuit was filed in March 2020 by Lieff Cabraser, Sauder Schelkopf, and the Miller Law Firm. Though numerous individual lawsuits representing single plaintiffs have been filed in federal court, Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel’s class action suit seeks to hold the University accountable for all of the abuse suffered by students as a result of Anderson’s heinous and unrelenting conduct, abuse that the University effectively condoned and may have helped conceal for decades. One of the huge virtues of the class action approach is that even those victims who are too scared or too injured to come forward will be represented and receive redress.
In an interview with The Daily in September 2020, Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, who leads the case for our firm, spoke of the differences between class-action cases and mass tort cases. She noted that individual cases are limited to monetary settlements without injunctive relief that can include systemic change at a business or educational institution, and often generate a first-to-come-forward-win-most mentality and competition among survivors. Such problems were observed in compensation disparities between the first group of survivors of abuse by Michigan State University Doctor Larry Nassar to come forward as compared to later groups.
“I take responsibility for the entire class, including people who have not come forward to file a lawsuit,” Ms. Martin said. “And one of the other rules for a class action is that class members have to be treated equitably amongst each other.”
Martin explained that class action cases are a better vehicle for insuring real institutional change in addition to financial settlements. In May 2021, Ms. Martin and her team filed a second class-action lawsuit on behalf of current and future UM students led by LSA senior Josephine Graham. The second suit serves as a companion suit to the first, and aims to enact sweeping policy changes to prevent and improve university responses to sexual violence on campus against students.
As that filing stated, these changes are necessary because of the “(University’s) failure to have or enforce appropriate policies and procedures to prevent, and sufficiently respond to, sexual violence on campus.” The parties are waiting for the court to rule on the University’s motion to have the lawsuit dismissed entirely.
Learn more about the student athlete sexual abuse class action against the University of Michigan / Dr. Robert Anderson.
Read the full article on The Michigan Daily website.
About Annika K. Martin
A partner in Lieff Cabraser’s New York office, Annika K. Martin served as co-lead counsel for plaintiff abuse victims in the USC student sexual abuse lawsuit that led to a $215 million settlement with USC and Dr. Tyndall and transformational institutional changes at USC. She currently represents male students who were sexually abused by University of Michigan physician Robert Anderson.
Annika also represents plaintiffs in class action and mass tort litigation concerning consumer fraud, environmental issues, and products liability. She served as co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the successful national consumer fraud class action brought against General Motors Company over allegedly defective air conditioning systems, and has a similar role in the more recent similar product defect case against Mercedes over their allegedly defective vehicle HVAC systems.
Annika represented individuals, property owners, and business owners across the Gulf Coast in class action litigation against BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and other companies responsible for the 2010 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which resulted in the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Annika was deeply involved in negotiating, implementing, and gaining court approval for the economic and medical class action settlements with BP that are compensating hundreds of thousands of victims of the tragedy.
Annika has also represented plaintiffs with physical and economic injuries arising from GM vehicles with defective ignition switches, and patient’s nationwide suffering from the widespread outbreak of meningitis and other serious maladies caused by contaminated medication. Annika is the current co-chair of AAJ’s Class Action Litigation Group.