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Two plaintiffs in lawsuit filed against Stanford say they were included without their consent

University says lawsuit is “without merit”

Two of the seven plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit accusing Stanford and seven other universities of fraudulent admissions processes say they did not grant written permission for their names and information to be used in the case.

Meanwhile, Stanford has deemed the lawsuit to be “without merit,” University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily.

“We take the issues raised through the events of this week very seriously,” Miranda wrote. “While we continue to closely examine our policies and processes to see if improvements should be made, we stand behind the integrity of our admissions process.”

None of the four attorneys involved in the lawsuit responded to The Daily’s multiple requests for comment.

The original lawsuit was filed Thursday morning with plaintiffs Kalea Woods ’20 and Erica Olsen ’21. Hours later, an amended complaint that excluded Olsen and added six additional students — none of whom currently attend Stanford — was filed.

Woods and Olsen did not respond to requests for comment.

Keri Fidelak, mother of Tulane undergraduate Lauren Fidelak, told The Daily she emailed lawyer John Medler on a “fact-finding mission” following the release of the initial complaint. In a later phone call that Keri said lasted approximately 10 minutes, she disclosed additional information about her daughter — some of which later appeared in the amended complaint — including her ACT scores and the colleges that rejected her. During the call, Keri said, she agreed to receive a mailed documentation on the case.

“The whole point was that he was going to send me a packet of information and I was going to review it with my husband and my daughter and we were going to decide together what to do,” Keri said. “There has been nothing signed.”  

Lauren was unaware of her mother’s correspondence with Medler or her inclusion as a plaintiff in the case until she read The Daily’s report, at which point she notified her mother. Keri described their inclusion in the lawsuit as “a huge invasion of privacy.” When Keri contacted Medler via email regarding the matter, he asserted in his response that she had, in fact, given him permission to include her during the phone call, but that he would remove her from the lawsuit if she wished.  

“[You] gave me the authority to file on your behalf and your daughter’s behalf,” Medler wrote in an email to Keri. “I am sorry that you have changed your mind, but it takes time to get the amendment on file.”

Keri recalls verbally agreeing to either “move forward” or “proceed,” but did not understand this to be an agreement of her inclusion as a plaintiff in the suit.

Medler told Keri in an email that he would remove the Fidelaks from the case in a second amended complaint, but did not specify when the amended complaint would be filed.

Keri told The Daily that she may pursue legal action or file an ethics complaint for being included as a plaintiff in the lawsuit despite giving what she believes did not constitute explicit consent.

Furthermore, although Medler told The Daily she is not an official plaintiff, Savannah Olmstead was nevertheless listed as a plaintiff on page four of the amended complaint; however, she was not named in the list of plaintiffs on the first page.

When The Daily reached out for comment regarding this discrepancy, Olmstead said she did not know she was explicitly named in the case. She said she was “only interested in the case and [has] not been officially named.” Olmstead declined to comment further.

Members of the other two families listed as plaintiffs did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment.

Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu, Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Julia Ingram

Julia Ingram

Julia Ingram ’21 is a Managing Editor for the News section. She is a New York City native interested in English literature, psychology, gymnastics and all things cat related. Contact her at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Erin Woo

Erin Woo

Erin Woo '21 is a senior staff writer. A native of Atlanta, GA, she is currently working her way through Berlin's coffeeshops, museums and bookstores. She served as a Managing Editor of News during The Daily's 254th and 255th volumes, and is excited to return this summer as co-editor in chief of Volume 256a. Contact her at erinkwoo 'at' stanford.edu.

Elena Shao

Elena Shao

Elena Shao '21 is from Suwanee, Georgia. At The Daily, she is a Managing Editor for News. Outside, she's studying political science. She also enjoys learning foreign languages and is hoping to pursue a career as an investigative and data journalist. Contact her at eshao98 'at' stanford.edu.