A U.S. district judge in Indianapolis ruled Monday that the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the parents of missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer would proceed in federal court. The complaint, brought by Robert and Charlene Spierer in May of this year, alleges that “the negligent actions and omissions” of three of the men who saw Lauren before she disappeared on the morning of June 3, 2011, “resulted in the disappearance, injury, and death” of their daughter.
With Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s denial of motions to dismiss on behalf of Corey Rossman and Jason Rosenbaum, the two defendants will now be required to answer the suit, says Jason Barclay, an attorney representing the Spierers. Judge Walton Pratt dismissed the Spierers’ claim against the third defendant, Mike Beth, earlier this month.
The case will now enter the next phase of litigation, which involves full discovery, Barclay tells IM. “One aspect of that is taking depositions under oath,” says Barclay.
A statement issued by the Spierers’ attorneys in response to the court’s decision maintains that the ruling “confirms that our lawsuit has merit and that we are entitled to ask important questions of these defendants and other witnesses.”
According to the Spierers’ complaint, Lauren attended a party at Rosenbaum’s apartment and accompanied Rossman to Kilroy’s Sports Bar in Bloomington before she went missing.
“Because the facts as stated by the Spierers are taken as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept that Rosenbaum provided alcoholic beverages to Lauren at his apartment, and that he knew Lauren was intoxicated at the time he furnished the alcoholic beverages,” Judge Tanya Walton Pratt wrote in her decision. “With regard to Rossman, the Spierers have adequately alleged that he furnished alcohol to Lauren while at Kilroy’s and that he had knowledge that she was visibly intoxicated.”
In the wake of the ruling, it was unclear whether information provided by Rossman and Rosenbaum during the investigation into Lauren’s disappearance would be admissible in the civil proceedings, says Indianapolis criminal-defense attorney Jim Voyles, who represented Rosenbaum. Any statements the defendants made “may be subject to objections,” Voyles tells IM.
Attorneys representing Rossman, Rosenbaum, and Beth in the civil case did not immediately respond to IM’s requests for comment.
“[I am] truly hoping we get answers,” Charlene Spierer wrote today in an e-mail to IM. “It is still difficult to believe this ever happened to Lauren.”