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Legislation would remove legal barriers to lawsuits filed against UM's Anderson

The Detroit News - 9/16/2020

Sep. 16--LANSING -- The Michigan Legislature will consider bills that would allow victims of former University of Michigan physician Robert Anderson to sue the university for their alleged sexual assault by altering the the statute of limitations and curbing the university's governmental immunity.

The legislation announced Wednesday would create a one-year window in which individuals could file suit against the university regardless of the three-year statute of limitations in which claimants must file a suit alleging personal injury.

The law currently provides an exemption from that statute of limitations if the defendant tried to cover up the incident, but UM claims it didn't conceal the assaults.

The planned window for lawsuits is similar to the 90-day window given to individuals who wanted to file against former Michigan State University Dr. Larry Nassar.

The legislation was introduced this week by Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce Township, and Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit. Berman and Whitsett said they have bipartisan support for the legislation in the House.

The legislation announced Wednesday also would close a loophole in the state's governmental immunity law.

Usually, universities' governmental immunity from lawsuits includes an exemption for improper medical care. But, at MSU, the university attempted to dismiss Nassar-related lawsuits by saying Nassar was sexually assaulting individuals, not providing medical care.

To close that loophole, the bills would revoke governmental immunity if an individual was abused "under the guise of medical care and the school knew or should have known."

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed against UM in connection with the alleged sexual abuse by Anderson. He served as director of the University Health Service and UM Athletic Department from 1968-2003. He died in 2008.


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