Documents filed last week in a U.S. district court reveal the full details of the settlement between Michigan State and the sexual abuse victims of former doctor Larry Nassar, which includes a provision to stop the Michigan Legislature from passing Nassar-related reforms on sexual assault.
In its settlement, Michigan State agreed to pay a total of $425 million to 333 victims with an additional $75 million set aside for any potential victims who have not yet come forward.
As part of the settlement, Michigan State does not admit any wrongdoing and is also able to use up to eight percent of the $75 million to defend itself against future lawsuits related to Nassar’s abuse, reports Deadspin.
Last week’s filing marks the first time the settlement has been released publicly and it has stirred up controversy regarding part of the settlement that required that three bills in the Michigan Senate fail to become law.
Senate Bill 872 would have opened a retroactive window for sexual assault victims to file time-barred claims. Senate Bills 875 and 877 would have stripped institutions of governmental immunity in certain sexual assault cases.
While the settlement language does not specify how the bills would fail, a few days after MSU reached the settlement in May, legislators dropped the governmental immunity bills and tailored the retroactivity bill so that it only applied to Nassar victims, according to The Detroit News.
Bob Young, a former Michigan Supreme Court justice who negotiated the settlement for MSU, said the settlement’s reference to the legislation indicates an agreed-upon outcome that would result from victims pulling their support for the legislation.
“People can say whatever they want and they can continue to support it covertly,” said Young. “The only way we could assure ourselves that their support had been withdrawn was a demonstrable result. That’s why it’s worded that way.”
Last week’s filing also detailed how appointed Judge William Bettinelli would allocate the $425 million to the 333 plaintiffs.
The amount each victim receives will differ based on the circumstances of each case, like whether the victim was a minor when the assaults occurred or whether penetration occurred. The average award for each victim is expected to be around $1.2 million.
While plaintiffs and their lawyers will control the $425 million, court documents show the $75 million set aside for new claimants will be controlled by MSU, which is required to put the money in a reserve fund that will be audited every six months, reports MLive.
The $75 million will exist for two years, after which the fund will dissolve and any leftover money will be given to the original 333 plaintiffs.
The settlement is expected to be signed by all parties next week and MSU will have 30 days to deposit the $425 million into a qualified settlement fund.
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