Earlier this year, 1,050 survivors of sexual abuse breathed a long-awaited sigh of relief when the University of Michigan reached a settlement in a sex abuse case against a former campus doctor. As per the verdict, $490 million will be divided amongst claimants who suffered unforgivable abuse perpetrated by the late Dr. Robert Anderson.
Although no amount of money can erase the pain that Anderson caused, the team at White Law PLLC is relieved that plaintiff attorneys, which include our founder Jamie White, have reached a resolution that validates the experiences of survivors.
Decades of Injustice
From 1966 to 2003, Dr. Anderson sexually abused hundreds of U-M students. Most of his victims were males, of whom one became a Superbowl Champion and another a world-famous wrestler.
During his tenure as a university health services physician, Anderson’s gross misconduct did not go unnoticed. In fact, multiple instances of abuse were reported to the assistant vice president of student affairs, Thomas Easthope.
In a recent testimony under oath, Easthope claimed to have confronted and fired Anderson. However, records show that Easthope’s statement was a lie and that he instead transferred Anderson to a position in U-M’s athletics department.
Sadly, the reassignment only offered a new setting for Anderson to continue his crimes.
If administrators had taken reports more seriously, scores of students could have been spared. Now, it’s the university’s responsibility to offer reparations to those who suffered sexual abuse from the former U-M doctor.
The University’s Response
In contrast to Easthope’s dismissal of abuse allegations, U-M officials have changed their tune in response to the misconduct that has come to light.
Along with the announcement of the $490 million settlement, administrators have stated, “We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors.”
They went on to say, “the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.” These remarks demonstrate a dramatic shift in U-M’s stance on the abuse that occurred so many years ago.
U-M’s response also leaves room for survivors, who have yet to come forward to make their voices heard in the future. The recent settlement agreement also acknowledges the possibility of future plaintiffs, as it has allocated $30 million for those who pursue legal action before July 31, 2023.
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Since some survivors of the sexual abuse committed by the former U-M doctor had more damaging experiences than others, the plaintiffs were asked to reach a consensus on how the settlement funds should be distributed amongst themselves.
According to the settlement terms, 98% of the claimants needed to agree on how to divide up the multi-million dollar payout. As of Sept. 16, plaintiffs have approved and finalized the settlement they’ve been owed for decades.
Many of the plaintiffs involved have expressed how relieved they are to have their stories validated and to be able to move past the unforgivable acts they endured.
Survivors of the U-M abuse scandal who’ve yet to join the class-action effort still have a chance to get the closure and compensation they deserve. If you’re considering joining the class-action suit, you would be wise to hire a sexual assault attorney.
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New Legislation to Make It Easier for Survivors to Come Forward
Currently, the statute of limitations makes it very difficult for survivors of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit. However, a new Michigan bill is in the works that could extend the state’s filing deadline by a considerable amount.
If signed into law, survivors will have 10 years from the date of their assault or seven years from the day they discover that they were abused to file a lawsuit. In addition, the new law will waive the time limit for cases with a criminal conviction.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse or misconduct, there has never been a better time to come forward and make your voice heard. As the social landscape changes and laws become more accommodating to survivors of abuse, it’s become much less difficult for you to get the justice you deserve.
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We’re Proud to Represent Victims of Abuse and Mistreatment
White Law PLLC’s founding attorney, Jamie White, played a key role in the UM case that obtained millions of dollars for over a thousand survivors of sex abuse. He was a part of the plaintiff steering committee, which managed and consolidated hundreds of claims.
Our firm is beyond proud to advocate on behalf of victims in nationally recognized abuse cases. In the past, we’ve represented Boy Scouts of America victims, survivors of abuse perpetrated by the clergy, and individuals affected by the opioid crisis.
We’ve changed the lives of thousands of Americans by making their voices heard and securing the financial remedies they need to cope with the physical and mental impacts they’ve suffered at the hands of malicious actors.
We’re thrilled with the results we’ve obtained for survivors of the decades-long abuse crisis at U-M, and we hope that more people come forward to receive the acceptance, compensation, and justice they’re sorely owed.
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