The WilmerHale investigation into allegations of sexual assault by former University of Michigan Doctor Robert Anderson can now continue, the Eastern District Court of Michigan ruled Thursday. Judge Victoria Roberts had previously issued a stay in the investigation after University President Mark Schlissel sent a letter inviting about 300,000 alumni from the late-1960s to the mid-2000s to provide information to WilmerHale. The stay came June 23, a week after Schlissel sent the letter on June 16.
In order for WilmerHale to continue the investigation, the University has agreed to send a follow up letter to the recipients of the June 16 letter alerting them of cases against the University regarding Anderson, including a class action lawsuit. The letter notes participation in the WilmerHale investigation is “purely voluntary.”
“If you are not already represented by counsel in connection with one of those cases, you may wish to consult your own legal counsel regarding your rights, or you may wish to contact any of the lawyers who are representing the existing claimants identified in the attached master docket of the cases,” the letter reads.
Roberts also ordered the University to ensure WilmerHale does not share information with attorneys representing the University in the Anderson cases. She wrote that a WilmerHale statement providing more information on the investigation ahead of July 29 status with University and WilmerHale attorneys led her to lift the stay.
“The Court presumes that this is an accurate representation of the protocols and guardrails that WilmerHale has in place to ensure that its investigation is survivor-centric, confidential, independent and thorough,” Roberts wrote.
Jonathan D. Selbin of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, interim class counsel in the litigation, celebrated the order in a statement.
“We are pleased the court has put guardrails around the WilmerHale investigation, and we are hopeful that it will truly serve the interests of survivors and not just UM and its leadership,” Selbin wrote. “As court-appointed interim class counsel, we have a duty to protect all victims of UM and Dr. Anderson, provide them an opportunity to obtain justice, and create lasting change to prevent this type of abuse from ever occurring again. The class action is the only way to accomplish all these goals, and accordingly we will continue prosecuting our case so that UM is held accountable.”
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald was similarly pleased with the court lifting the stay.
“We are very pleased that WilmerHale will be able to move forward and complete its investigation, which is so important to get to all the facts and report them to the public,” Fitzgerald wrote.
Summer News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.