INDIANAPOLIS - One of three men who were with an Indiana University student when she disappeared in 2011 was dismissed Monday from a lawsuit seeking to hold them liable for her death.
Michael Beth offered 20-year-old Lauren Spierer a place to sleep after his roommate, Corey Rossman, brought her intoxicated to their apartment, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said. When Spierer refused, Beth escorted her down the hall to the apartment of Jason Rosenbaum.
Pratt's ruling came after attorneys for Spierer's parents, Charlene and Robert Spierer of Greenburgh, N.Y., and the three defendants debated defense motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Spierers sued the men for not ensuring their incapacitated daughter returned safely to her apartment after a night of partying in Bloomington. They allege Rosenbaum provided alcoholic drinks at his apartment and Rossman did the same later at Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington.
Only Beth's attorney, Greg Garrison, was immediately successful. He argued Beth was working on a paper for a class when Spierer arrived and returned to that after taking her to Rosenbaum's apartment, where there'd been a party earlier that night.
Beth's actions "cannot create a duty" for the woman's welfare, Garrison argued. He said Spierer ultimately was responsible for her own actions after she chose to leave Rosenbaum's apartment.
"She just walked away, and that cannot create any liability on their case," Garrison told Pratt.
Pratt said she likely would rule within a few weeks whether the lawsuit against Rossman and Rosenbaum can proceed.
No criminal charges have been filed in Spierer's disappearance on June 3, 2011, and there's been no sign of her despite numerous searches around Bloomington and the surrounding wooded countryside that's dotted with lakes and water-filled old limestone quarries about 40 miles south of Indianapolis.
The Spierers have long maintained the men haven't fully cooperated with investigators and hope the lawsuit will force them to answer questions under oath.
The Spierers' attorney, Jeanine Kerridge, argued Rossman and Rosenbaum had a legal duty for Lauren Spierer's welfare because they had provided drinks to the point where she was visibly intoxicated.
"They were contributing to her peril," Kerridge said.
Rossman had an additional duty to the woman because after leaving the bar, he carried her past her own apartment while going to the apartment he and Beth shared.
The two remaining defendants' attorneys challenged the Spierers' claim that their daughter is dead, arguing that under Indiana law seven years must pass before someone who has vanished is presumed dead.
However, Kerridge argued the case should go forward so a jury can decide whether the woman is dead.
"There's no rational explanation for Miss Spierer's disappearance," Kerridge said.
Neither the Spierers nor Kerridge had any comment after the hearing.
Garrison said Beth, who has since graduated from IU, is upset at the many facets of the case -- the disappearance of an acquaintance, the search, police investigations and, more recently, the federal lawsuit.
"I just know he's very upset. ... He's stuck. He's made the federal court. He's had to work his way through it all," Garrison said outside the courthouse after the hearing.