The family of late soccer player Katie Meyer is suing Stanford University 10 months after her death by suicide.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 23, accuses Stanford of inflicting "emotional distress" on Meyer—the Stanford Women's soccer team captain and goalkeeper—after the university sent her a disciplinary letter on Feb. 28 from its Office of Community Standards regarding a former incident.
According to the lawsuit obtained by E! News, Meyer was charged with "Violation of the Fundamental Standard by spilling coffee on another student" in a notice that contained "threatening language," including a mention of a potential expulsion. She died on the same day she received the letter, per the suit
The letter followed an August 2021 incident where Meyer allegedly spilled coffee on a football player who was accused of sexually assaulting Meyer's soccer teammate. The football player did not raise a complaint against Meyer, per the suit, which states it was Lisa Caldera, Dean of Residential Education, who raised the issue.
The lawsuit states Stanford "recklessly and negligently" sent Meyer the letter after hours, and that the university "failed to respond to Katie's expression of distress" after Meyer wrote back in an email she was "shocked and distraught" with the violation notice.
"From the onset, there was no reasonable basis, nor sufficient evidence, for Stanford to bring such harsh and aggressive disciplinary charges for purported 'spilled coffee,' and the threats levied against Katie by Stanford employees were unwarranted, overly punitive, without due care and reckless," the lawsuit states. "In short, Stanford employees used the OCS process selectively on Katie Meyer as a form of institutional bullying."
Stanford denied the lawsuit's allegations, stating that they were "false and misleading."
"The Stanford community continues to grieve Katie's tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain that Katie's passing has caused them," the university said in a Nov. 28 statement to E! News. "However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death."
The university said they communicated with Meyer regarding her case prior to Feb. 28, and that they provided her with a number to call for "immediate support" that was available at all hours. Stanford also said they wrote back to Meyer an hour after her reply to the disciplinary letter.
Moreover, Meyer's family said they are pursuing the case to "seek systemic changes to improve the safety and support of the Stanford students."
"Katie Meyer absolutely loved being a student-athlete at Stanford University," the family said in a Nov. 23 statement. "We are deeply troubled and disappointed with what we have learned since her passing and have no choice but to move forward with litigation to achieve justice for Katie and protect future students."