On Sept. 8, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer entered a default judgment against Michael Haywood, a former safety officer at Evanston Township High School, after he failed to appear in the case and answer the allegations of the complaint. The judgment is for $2 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
A default may be entered when a defendant fails to appear in a case and fails to answer the complaint.
The First Amended Complaint (the Complaint) alleges that one of the two plaintiffs was a student at ETHS until she graduated in June 2019. She had an individualized education plan, and turned 18 on March 11, 2019. The second plaintiff is her mother.
The Complaint alleges that Mr. Haywood was a safety officer at ETHS’s Safety Department.
The Complaint alleges, in part, “From September 2018 through the beginning of January 2019, Michael Haywood engaged in over forty (40) acts of unauthorized sexual and other contact with [the] minor female ETHS student …” Some of the conduct allegedly occurred at the high school.
In support of their motion for a default judgment, the plaintiffs filed a memorandum, and each plaintiff filed an affidavit.
The order entered against Mr. Haywood provides: “Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment against Defendant Michael Haywood is granted. Plaintiff is awarded compensatory damages in the amount of $2,000,000.00 and Punitive damages in the amount of $1,000,000.00. Execution of this judgment is stayed for 30 days.”
The First Amended Complaint remains pending against the Board of Education of Evanston Township High School District 202, the Superintendent, and the Assistant Superintendent and Principal at ETHS. They have filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim, asserting among things that there is no evidence they knew about the alleged misconduct before they fired Mr. Haywood.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, Managing Partner of Action Injury Law Group LLC, told the RoundTable, “I think the Court is sending a message as to the seriousness of the allegations against the District.”
The RoundTable asked the ETHS defendants’ attorney, Charles Anthony LeMoine, to comment on the judgment. The request was made late today, and he did not respond before this article was posted.