Education Law

$2.5M Settlement in Rare Clery Act Case re Murdered Student

Eastern Michigan University has agreed to pay a $2.5 million settlement to the family of a murdered student apparently slain in her dorm room, in an unusual case related to violations of the federal Clery Act due to non-disclosure of campus safety information.

EMU and the family of Laura Dickinson jointly announced an agreed settlement of unspecified claims against the Ypsilanti-based university today, but provided few details, according to the Ann Arbor News and the Detroit News. EMU did not admit any liability, however, and the family apparently entered into a confidentiality agreement with EMU concerning its settlement with her estate and survivors.

Dickinson’s family never filed suit against EMU, but the university agreed to settle their claims to preclude litigation, reports the Ann Arbor News.

As discussed in an earlier post, fellow students and Dickinson’s family were told she had died of natural causes even though circumstances suggested–and subsequent investigation confirmed–that she had been raped and murdered. Not until months later did they find out the truth. Both a law firm hired by the university and government investigators determined that EMU had violated Clery Act disclosure requirements.

Several top EMU officials lost their jobs over the university’s handling of the incident. Among them: its president, John Fallon, who has since filed a whistleblower suit. Meanwhile, EMU is awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Education on a possible fine for violating the Clery Act.

Fellow student Orange Taylor III is accused of Dickinson’s rape and murder. Not until he was arrested for the crimes did EMU acknowledge that Dickinson did not die of natural causes, as officials had previously announced. Taylor’s trial on these charges in October ended with a deadlocked jury, and he is scheduled to be tried again next year.

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