The parents of Katie Meyer, a star football player who committed suicide last spring, filed a lawsuit against Stanford on Wednesday.
At the time of her death, 21-year-old Meyer was facing disciplinary action for allegedly spilling coffee on a Stanford football player accused of sexually assaulting a female football player. Meyer’s father said his daughter defended that teammate, who was a minor at the time.
The lawsuit says that on the night of her death, Stanford “negligently and recklessly” sent her the formal disciplinary notice that contained “threatening language about sanctions and possible ‘expulsion from the university’.”
On the night of Feb. 28, Meyer FaceTimed her parents and two sisters from her dorm room at Stanford, and according to her mom, she was in a good mood. They coordinated her spring break plans, which included a layover in Southern California and a few days to Mexico with friends.
However, her parents say that later that night, Meyer received Stanford’s six-page email informing her of a disciplinary hearing.
The next day, Meyer was found dead in her dorm room, where she lived as a live-in counselor. An autopsy performed on March 3 confirmed the manner of death was due to suicide.
“Stanford’s disciplinary charge and reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie caused Katie to have an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,” the lawsuit said. “Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply disturbing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources.”
In a statement to several media outlets, Stanford spokesperson Dee Mostofi refuted the lawsuit’s claims.
“The Stanford community continues to mourn Katie’s tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain Katie’s passing has caused them,” Mostofi wrote.
“However, we strongly disagree with any claim that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not yet seen the formal complaint from the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations in the filing, which are false and misleading,” Mostofi added.
Meyer, a senior studying international relations and history, made two key saves in a penalty shootout to help Stanford win the 2019 national championship. She was part of the prestigious 2022 Mayfield Fellows Program – which aims to develop students to lead technology ventures. — and was awaiting admission to Stanford Law School.