Media Resources

University of Michigan / Dr. Robert Anderson Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

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Press conference images/video credit: Courtesy White Law PLLC

Press Release 

Heading toward settlement talks, victims of Dr. Robert Anderson brace for unequal treatment

Predominantly African American male victims’ group that includes 49ers Super Bowl champion Dwight Hicks fears unfair compensation compared to that of predominantly white victims in the Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky cases

LANSING, MI, Aug. 12 ­–  No matter the legal claim — car accidents, workplace injuries, malpractice — studies show Black men typically received less compensation than their white counterparts. And as University of Michigan pushes sexual abuse victims of the late Dr. Robert Anderson toward settlement, a predominantly African American survivors’ group harbors concerns that their experience will follow this well-established trend.

Dwight Hicks, 1977 captain of the University of Michigan football team, who went on to become a two-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Pro Bowl selection, and in 1984 was the captain of the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl Championship team. Hicks currently works as an actor and is one of the men coming forward for the first time to discuss his experience as a survivor of Anderson’s abuse.

Hicks says everything about the way University of Michigan dealt with Robert Anderson, since Hicks’ days as a young student athlete in the mid-1970s until today, serves as a reflection of larger problems in society: How we deal with race, sexual abuse, and with taking responsibility and being accountable for the injustices of the past. “Today in this moment and in this time, the University of Michigan has an opportunity to be proactive and take the initiative to truly be a leader for change,” Hicks said.

“We know Black men typically get less in everyday injury cases,” said attorney Jamie White, who represents dozens African American Anderson survivors as well as survivors of Larry Nassar. “Now imagine the disparity with something as emotionally charged as sexual abuse. Because Black male athletes are seen as powerful, that leads to skepticism that they could truly be victimized by a sexual predator in the same way girls on the gymnastics team were. But Nassar’s and Anderson’s methods were virtually identical: abuse under the guise of medical treatment, years of ignored complaints, at a campus just 50 miles down the road.”

“We just want the university to value our clients in the legal arena the same way it values them in the sporting arena,” added White’s co-counsel Steve Estey.

“There are signs that it may not be a level playing field for these men,” said attorney Parker Stinar. “For more than four decades, University of Michigan protected Dr. Anderson, but failed to protect this population of students from sexual abuse. We are seeking justice, and we demand that our clients are not discounted due to their color.”

On a hopeful note, Stinar pointed out that University of Michigan Regent Jordan Acker’s law firm Goodman Acker sued Delta Airlines in 2017 for $10 million dollars in a sexual abuse case. Attorneys argued the airline was guilty of gross negligence when an employee reported a deviant passenger openly masturbating, yet officials took no action.

“Acker’s firm very rightly argued that the passenger the man later touched and exposed himself to suffered trauma when Delta failed to halt a sexual abuser they had been duly informed about,” Stinar said. “We’re heartened to know that at least one regent shares our views about such matters.”

Stinar noted that the primarily white male victims in Jerry Sandusky Penn State sexual abuse case had an average compensation of nearly $3 million per victim. In the Nassar case, female victims, who typically receive lower compensation, received nearly $1.5 million. “We’re demanding fairness. Not discounts.”

 


 

Attorney Jamie White has represented a large number of sexual abuse survivors in litigation against the institutions that allowed it to occur, including dozens of victims in the University of Michigan sexual abuse case and victims of USA Gymnastics’ disgraced Dr. Larry Nassar. He has also represented clergy abuse survivors and more than 100 survivors of sexual abuse Boy Scouts of America scandal.
 
Attorney Parker Stinar has litigated matters in more than 35 counties across the country, including trials in 3 states. He has obtained numerous seven-figure verdicts and settlements, including a $3 million dollar verdict as first-chair counsel in 2015, $1.7 million dollar verdict in 2016, and $680,000 in 2018 . He is a frequent guest speaker at law schools, bar associations, and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). 
 
Attorney Steve Estey is a founding partner of Estey & Bomberger, LLP where he specializes in cases other attorneys see as “unwinnable”. Steve is a compassionate person who understands the trauma his clients have suffered and works tirelessly to provide them the justice they deserve. He co-founded Estey & Bomberger with partner and law school friend Mike Bomberger, and they have collaboratively grown the San Diego personal injury firm from its 1994 inception into one of the most formidable trial firms in California.
 
Attorney Jamie White
Attorney Parker Stinar
Attorney Steve Estey