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Despite nearly four years having passed since the suit was initially filed, the case against Maine West High School has finally settled. While the school district admitted no liability in the settlement, they paid 5 students a total of $1,000,000 to settle their case. Each student will receive $200,000. Since the case took so long, the students are now all adults.
The 2012 case started after high school athletics hazing went too far. One boy was held down, groped, and sodomized with a finger and foreign object. While the coaches and students involved were all cleared of criminal charges, the civil suit included 5 students who all asserted that they had been hazed by upperclassmen.
Hazing in Athletics
When students are forcibly stripping and sodomizing each other in order to initiate each other onto a sports team, there's clearly a problem. Although the school admitted no liability, it was clear from the lawsuit that these hazing activities were not isolated to one or two years, but happened from at least 2008 through 2012. Once the school was made aware of the incidents, they quickly took action and fired the coaches.
In response to the lawsuit, the Maine legislature passed a law making it a misdemeanor for a school official to fail to report hazing.
No Admission of Liability Necessary
It's rare that any settlement will include an admission of guilt or liability or even an apology. Generally, when there is a settlement and a large dollar amount is disclosed, it is a relatively safe assumption that the party paying the money would have been found liable, regardless of what they may say.
When there is a settlement and no dollar amount is disclosed, that's when things can be trickier to decipher. When a plaintiff settles because they realize that they cannot win, often there will be a settlement for no money, but rather just a waiver of costs.