PALO ALTO, Calif. - The parents of Katie Meyer, the former Stanford soccer goalie who died by suicide, have sued the university for wrongful death, according to a copy of the civil lawsuit obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
When Meyer took her own life, the suit states she was facing disciplinary action for allegedly spilling coffee on a Stanford football player while she was riding her bike, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The football player allegedly sexually assaulted a female soccer player, then a minor, on the Stanford women’s soccer team on which Meyer served as a captain, according to the complaint. Her father, Steve, told media outlets that his daughter had been defending her teammate.
On the evening of Feb. 28, the night of Meyer’s death, Stanford "negligently and "recklessly’’ sent her a formal written notice charging her with a "Violation of the Fundamental Standard by spilling coffee on another student,’’ according to the complaint.
Meyer, her parents said, received the letter after 7 p.m. that night, when university counseling services had already closed.
"Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charge, and the reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie, caused Katie to suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,’’ the complaint states. "Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply distressing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources.’’
The football player was later dismissed from the team. He reportedly said he wanted to "make amends" with Meyer and wasn’t trying to"impact" her life with any punishment for the incident.
In a response to USA Today, Stanford disagreed that it is responsible for Meyer's death, but had not seen the complaint.
"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,'' according to a Stanford email sent to USA Today.
Meyer, 21, was a senior majoring in International Relations, resident assistant, and was supposed to graduate this year. Her fierce competitiveness helped Stanford win its third NCAA women's soccer championship in 2019.
At the time, Stanford called her a shining star.
"Katie was extraordinarily committed to everything and everyone in her world," Stanford said in a statement released shortly after her death. "Her friends describe her as a larger-than-life team player in all her pursuits, from choosing an academic discipline she said 'changed my perspective on the world and the very important challenges that we need to work together to overcome' to the passion she brought to the Cardinal women’s soccer program and to women’s sports in general."
"Katie was a bright shining light for so many on the field and in our community," the university wrote.
IF YOU NEED HELP: If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult life circumstances or uncomfortable thoughts and emotions call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You do not need to be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings to call. Trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, every day. Translation is available in more than 140 languages.