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December 2022

Chicago Team Secures Complete Defense Verdict in Federal Jury Trial for Chicago Public Schools

Partner Susan J. Best and Associate Max Bungert of the Chicago office partnered with Elizabeth K. Barton, Assistant Deputy General Counsel, and Steven Walker, Assistant General Counsel for Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”), to secure a complete defense verdict on December 12, 2022, after a federal jury trial in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

CPS is one of the nation’s largest school districts, serving nearly 325,000 students and 35,000 employees. The plaintiff, a former Lincoln Park High School (“LPHS”) Principal, was fired amid several misconduct allegations. The events at LPHS during that time were highly publicized as the community demanded more information. After the plaintiff’s termination, CPS issued a series of statements relating to the investigations conducted by its Title IX office and Inspector General, the Principal’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a student(s) and a coach, and confirming its commitment to protecting students. 

The plaintiff brought claims against CPS, its former Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Janice Jackson, its former Chief Communications Officer, Michael Passman, and Network Chief, Dr. Laura LeMone. The trial lasted six days and was highly publicized by the Chicago Tribune and other local news outlets throughout the week. The plaintiff requested an award of ten million dollars, but the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of CPS and the individual defendants, awarding the plaintiff zero dollars.

Throughout the litigation, LPHS’ Assistant Principal (“AP”) was also a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. However, in the weeks leading up to the trial, the defense team secured the dismissal of all claims due to strategic pre-trial motion practice. The AP claimed over a million dollars in damages. 

Susan J. Best