The parents Julia Pernsteiner, a Jacksonville University student-athlete who died by suicide at the age of 23, are suing the institution and her former track coach over her death.
On November 8th, 2021, the long-distance runner who was recruited into the school’s tracks and field in late 2020 took her own life in her dorm room. Following the death of their daughter, the parents of Julia Pernsteiner are suing her university and former track and field director Ron Grigg, who is believed to have created a “toxic atmosphere of humiliation and intimidation” that led to the athlete’s depression.
Lawyers for the family explain in the lawsuit that Pernsteiner had ADHD and severe dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, all of which were severely made fun of by her track and field director. Former teammates claimed that the 23-year-old was consistently harassed and even called “r–––ed” “the slowest f––ing runner on the team,” and unable to “wipe your own a**” by Griggs.
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Additionally, her teammates shared that they were often “fat shamed” by the running coach, who subjected the athlete to weekly weigh-ins, assessed their BMI (body mass index), and required them to have 10 percent or less body fat.
Griggs went on to dismiss Pernsteiner from the team, prompting her to take legal action against him. She went to the school’s athletic director looking for advice on the situation and went on to contact the local police force and provided them with video footage of the emotional distress she endured because of Griggs.
Details surrounding the Pernsteiner family lawsuit
When the student-athlete committed suicide, her parents launched a lawsuit against Jacksonville University for not providing her the support and accommodations she needed for her disabilities and Griggs for emotional distress. Griggs has since resigned from his position as the track and field director in July of 2022, citing “concerning information shared online.”
“For 22 months prior to her death, Julia suffered pain, mental anguish, panic attacks, fear, and depression. Wherefore, Plaintiffs demand judgment against defendant JU for damages, costs, and trial by jury,” the lawsuit reads.
Since the lawsuit began, Jacksonville University has offered little information about the status of the family’s claims. “The students, faculty and staff of Jacksonville University continue to mourn Julia’s tragic death, and we sympathize with the Pernsteiner family for their loss,” the school wrote in a statement. “Per university policy, we do not comment on pending litigation.”
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