Eagan family files lawsuit against Jacksonville University, running coach after daughter's suicide
(FOX 9) - The family of a college runner who died by suicide is now suing her former cross-country coach and her university.
Julia Pernsteiner, who was just 23 when she died, was from Eagan and graduated from Rosemount High School before attending Jacksonville University. Her family says her former coach, Ron Grigg, created an atmosphere of humiliation and intimidation and routinely "fat shamed" her through email and text messages.
They claim Jacksonville University had received complaints about his behavior. After Julia's death in November 2021, other current and former runners on the team went public against the coach and his tactics.
Ron Grigg resigned in July 2022. Julia's family is suing for wrongful death and failure to provide accommodations for Julia's learning disabilities.
The lawsuit filed last month describes Pernsteiner's journey from being thrilled to accept the scholarship to suffering on the running team and at school.
Last year, FOX 9 spoke with Pernsteiner's family as they grieved the loss of their daughter. We also heard from the journalist who broke the story, Sam Mathers. After failing to get action from the university, Pernsteiner turned to Mathers for help just two weeks before she took her own life in her dorm room.
In a video obtained by Mathers, Pernsteiner is seen describing the abuse she suffered on the running team while asking a Jacksonville Sheriff's deputy if there was anything they could do. "Everyone's done with you. You're the slowest (bleeping) runner on the planet. You're an awful person," Pernsteiner recalled.
At the time, the university released a statement that said in part, "Over the past few days there has been some very concerning information shared online regarding the personal experiences of some of our student-athletes... We believe, and Coach Grigg agrees, that this is the best path forward."