Gymnast fails to clear timeliness bar at 7th Circuit

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that a USA gymnast who was among the hundreds sexually assaulted by a former team physician did not present any evidence to support her claim to take part in the settlement agreement.

Jane Doe J.J. competed for 10 years as a member of USA Gymnastics. During that time, she was sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the former physician who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years. USA Gymnastics subsequently filed for bankruptcy in 2018 with the bankruptcy court setting a deadline of April 2019 for all claimants to file a proof of claim.

J.J. did not file a claim until five months after the deadline. She argued her claim should be treated a timely because USA Gymnastics should have known she was victim and notified her.

However, the body appointed to represent sexual-assault claimants’ interests — the Additional Tort Claimants Committee of Sexual Abuse Survivors — objected to J.J.’s request. It contended that the former gymnast was entitled only to constructive notice, which she had received through USA Gymnastics’ media campaigns.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana found the gymnast’s claim to be untimely and the 7th Circuit affirmed in In Re: USA Gymnastics, Jane Doe J.J. v. William L. Bettinelli, 21-2916.

J.J. argued that under Michigan’s recordkeeping requirement, USA Gymnastic had a responsibility to know that Nassar had seen her for medical treatment. However, the circuit court did not find such a clear obligation in Michigan law.

“Because J.J. has neither presented evidence that USA Gymnastics had records of her medical visits with Nassar nor shown that Michigan law required it to possess such records, we agree with the bankruptcy and district courts that J.J. was not a reasonably ascertainable creditor,” Judge Thomas Kirsch wrote for the court. “She was thus entitled only to constructive notice, the sufficiency of which she does not contest.”

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