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MSU wants judge to dismiss dozens of Nassar lawsuits

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Michigan State University attorneys are asking a federal judge to dismiss dozens of lawsuits filed by people who say they're victims of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar.

The lawsuits represent the second wave of plaintiffs filing suit against the university. 

The lawsuits were filed after MSU reached a $500 million settlement with more than 300 victims of Larry Nassar in June 2018.

The motion filed by MSU’s attorneys late Monday asks the federal judge to dismiss the suits for a variety of reasons. MSU says that plaintiffs "have not alleged that MSU did anything to create or increase the danger, other than allowing Nassar continued contact with patients and opportunities for abuse."

The language in the suit has drawn an outcry from Nassar survivors.

MSU's law team claimed that survivor Amanda Thomashow's 2014 complaint - which led to a Title IX investigation that cleared Nassar - could not have alerted the school to the abuse of minors, because Thomashow was 24 years old at the time.

In a tweet, Thomashow responded, "I’ll never forget when I first reported to Dr Jeffery Kovan at MSU and he told me about Larry’s Facebook being shut down because he had too many underage female friends. Facebook thought he was a predator, but somehow even after reports of misconduct MSU had no idea? K."

Learn more: Believed, the Peabody-award winning podcast from Michigan Radio

Attorney Nick Roumel represents several of the plaintiffs in second wave lawsuits MSU wants to dismiss.  

“The brief is so hurtful. I won’t even send it to my clients," he says. “There’s over 1000 pages there that do nothing except aggressively and relentlessly belittle the claims of the wave two survivors, who want only to be treated the same as their wave one sisters."

An MSU spokeswoman says the university has reached settlements with 80 plaintiffs who have come forward since June 2018 and remain in active settlement negotiations with the majority of the remaining plaintiffs.

“Because we have not yet been able to reach a settlement in all cases, the court recently lifted the stay and ordered MSU to respond to the complaints. We responded with a motion to dismiss in order to preserve our defenses to the claims,” says MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant. “This is simply a procedural step in the litigation process.

But attorney Nick Roumel says it’s frustrating that MSU officials have talked about changingthe way the university treats victims of sexual abuse and then asks a judge to dismiss their lawsuits.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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