University of Michigan finalizes settlement of Anderson cases

ANN ARBOR—A January settlement between the University of Michigan and attorneys for more than 1,000 plaintiffs who alleged abuse by Dr. Robert Anderson has been approved by all parties and finalized.

The university said today that the process was completed under the direction of Robert F. Riley, a neutral third-party mediator appointed by U.S. District Court Judge Victoria A. Roberts.

The approximately $490 million settlement required the consent of 98% of the plaintiffs, a milestone recently achieved.

“The University of Michigan sincerely apologizes for the abuse perpetrated by the late Robert Anderson. We hope this settlement will aid in the healing process for survivors,” said UM Board Chair Paul Brown.

“We view this settlement as one of the steps we have taken in a process we began more than two years ago to fully understand what happened, make amends and enact reforms. Our work n It’s not over until UM is seen as the leader in creating a safe campus environment for everyone.

The plaintiffs and their attorneys will be responsible for deciding how to distribute the settlement funds. The university has no role in this process.

UM President Mary Sue Coleman said finalizing the settlement continues the university’s momentum in fighting misconduct.

“This regulation allows the university to protect future generations of students and all members of the university community. It complements a separate settlement reached earlier this year that adds a coordinated community response team to the best practices currently in place. We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone in Michigan,” she said.

In August, the university finalized a settlement in a separate class action lawsuit that led to the formation of a team of approximately 30-40 representatives from campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint to meet regularly. and advising the university on a wide range of approaches to preventing and dealing with misconduct. This team is being formed.

Leading experts across the country consider it a best practice for colleges and universities looking to enact serious reforms. The full group will meet at least three times a year to address issues on an ongoing basis and to assess, plan, monitor and evaluate efforts to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.

In March 2020, the university hired the law firm WilmerHale to independently investigate the sexual abuse allegations against Anderson.

Seeking to improve support for survivors and more effectively prevent sexual and gender-based misconduct, the university adopted a set of policies and procedures in September 2021 that includes common definitions of prohibited behaviors, separate procedures for addressing allegations against students and those against employees and third parties, and clarifications on existing resources and how to report misconduct confidentially.

Last year, a nationally recognized consulting firm hired by the university, Guidepost Solutions, concluded its work following an unrelated case and found that all of the firm’s recommendations had been implemented, were being put in place or that alternative solutions were being pursued. These actions, posted online, include:

  • Update the university’s policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct.
  • Launch a process to facilitate culture change based on shared values.
  • Created the Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX, with a focus on prevention and education in addition to investigating allegations of sexual and gender-based misconduct.
  • Adopt policies covering protections against retaliation and regulating the relationship between supervisors and those they supervise.
  • Improve screening of candidates before hiring or promotion.