Those affected most profoundly by examining room misdeeds at MSU’s Sports Medicine Clinic react with relief and resolve to news of a massive lawsuit settlement agreement.
More than 330 women are in line to share $425 million from the university, after attorney fees, with $75 million more reserved for future claims of verified abuse by Larry Nassar.
Yes, that’s a half-billion dollars — about $390 million more than Penn State paid in 2016 to 33 male victims of abuse by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
If all claims are treated equally, the tentative settlement — negotiated with a mediator’s help — amounts to $1,280,120 per suing survivor, The Detroit News calculates.
These are among comments from people involved in the suit against MSU, and the father of a survivor who’s not among plaintffs:
Rachel Denhollander, plaintiff
I am thankful that the litigation phase is over so that my sisters and I can move forward.
I remain deeply disappointed at the missed opportunity for meaningful reform at the university. My choice to come forward publicly against Larry, and later against the institutions that allowed him to prey on children for decades, was motivated by the need for accountability and reform, so that other little children don’t live the nightmares we lived. . . .
I remain disappointed that resolution was not reached with other organizations [USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee] who also enabled a serial predator for decades. . . .
The litigation phase is over, but the fight for change and accountability, the fight to give survivors a voice and protect the next generation, has only just begun.
[Full statement is here.]
Lindsey Lemke (MSU ’19), plaintiff
I’ve experienced more emotions today than I have in the last 20 months combined. . . .
This is the most accomplished I have felt in a long time. I’ve never devoted myself to something more in my life than to fightr for justice from instututions who hold more power than what is imaginable. But we did it. Not the end, but this is victory.
Nicole Reeb, plaintiff
We survivors have been to hell and back. This money will make my life a little bit easier, and after having suffered from PTSD for the last 21 years, I deserve for my life to be a little bit easier.
Ron French, survivor’s parent
There’s no amount of money my family wouldn’t trade for this not to have happened. A settlement doesn’t end the nightmares my daughter has every night, or make her less afraid of doctors.
Anyone who tries to reduce this to red ink on a balance sheet still doesn’t get it. There was a monster operating with impunity at Michigan State for years, and no one did anything about it.
John Manley, plaintiffs’ attorney (Irvine, Calif.)
“This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced.
“It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will be far reaching institutional reform that will end the threat of sexual assault in sports, schools and throughout our society.”
Original coverage, Wednesday morning:
Hoping to get past one of the ugliest chapters in its 162 years, Michigan State University announces a $500-million settlement for Larry Nassar’s sexual assault survivors.
The pending lawsuit deal covers 332 women, with $75 million set aside in a trust fund for potential future claims.
Victims can speak openly about their cases and how much each gets because there’s no confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement.
Atoorneys representing victims receive a share of the settlement, as is customary. MSU trustees OK’d the arrangement in a Tuesday night conference call.
It applies to only the university and MSU individuals sued in the litigation — not to claims against USA Gymnastics, the Unite States Olympic Committee, Bela and Martha Karolyi, Twistars, John Geddert or other parties, a university press release says.
The News’ article by Kim Kozlowski and Beth LeBlanc puts today’s dramatic development in context:
The agreement is one of the largest sexual assault settlements in history, far eclipsing the  agreement Penn State University reached with victims in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Penn State’s agreement was reached with 33 victims, whereas MSU had nearly 10 times more plaintiffs.
Lawsuits from victims of Sandusky ended up costing $109 million in settlements.
Trustee Brian Breslin comments on MSU’s site:
“We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories,” he said.
“We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention. A successful resolution to the litigation is a positive step in moving us all forward. We will continue working as a board to address the necessary changes and improvements that are needed at our university.”
Another trustee, Dianne Byrum, adds:
“I am pleased a settlement has been reached with the brave young women whose lives have been impacted by this tragic situation. Today’s settlement is an important step forward and we must continue working to change the culture at MSU to ensure this never happens again.”
Robert Young, special counsel to MSU, also issues a statement:
“Michigan State is pleased that we have been able to agree in principle on a settlement that is fair to the survivors of Nassar’s crimes. We appreciate the hard work both sides put into the mediation, and the efforts of the mediator, which achieved a result that is responsible and equitable.”
— Allan Lengel