The Chicago Journal

Pat Fitzgerald’s $130 Million Lawsuit Against Northwestern University

Pat Fitzgerald
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Former Northwestern University football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, has taken legal action against the institution and its president, Michael Schill. This lawsuit stems from his termination in July following a hazing scandal within the football program. In this article, we delve into the details of the lawsuit, the charges it encompasses, and the implications for both parties involved.

The Lawsuit:

Pat Fitzgerald, with the support of his legal team led by attorney Dan Webb, is pursuing a substantial lawsuit. This legal action seeks redress for wrongful termination and includes multiple charges against Northwestern and President Schill. These charges encompass breaches of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and claims for punitive damages.

Breach of Contract:

One of the central elements of Fitzgerald’s lawsuit pertains to breaches of contract. He argues that Northwestern violated two distinct contracts, which form the basis of his wrongful termination claim. These contracts likely include employment agreements and associated terms.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress:

The lawsuit further alleges that Northwestern and President Schill intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Pat Fitzgerald. This is a significant claim that underscores the gravity of the situation.


Defamation is another charge laid out in the lawsuit. Fitzgerald and his legal team assert that false statements or damaging remarks were made about him, tarnishing his reputation. Defamation claims can be complex, and the lawsuit aims to address these allegations.

Punitive Damages:

In pursuit of justice, the lawsuit includes claims for punitive damages. These damages serve as a means to penalize Northwestern and President Schill for what Fitzgerald perceives as injustices suffered by him and his family.

Jury’s Role:

Attorney Dan Webb has indicated that a jury will play a crucial role in determining the extent of damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. This underscores the importance of a fair and impartial legal process.

Response to Northwestern:

Northwestern University contends that Fitzgerald, as the head of the football program, bears responsibility for the hazing incidents and should have been aware of and prevented them. This assertion sets the stage for a contentious legal battle.

“As part of the six-month independent investigation, multiple current or former football student-athletes acknowledged that hazing took place within the football program. Student-athletes across a range of years corroborated these findings, showing beyond question that hazing – which included nudity and sexualized acts – took place on Fitzgerald’s watch. Since these findings were released, numerous former student-athletes have filed lawsuits against Fitzgerald and the University related to hazing they endured while on Fitzgerald’s team. The safety of our students remains our highest priority, and we deeply regret that any student-athletes experienced hazing. We remain confident that the University acted appropriately in terminating Fitzgerald and we will vigorously defend our position in court.”


Pat Fitzgerald’s $130 million lawsuit against Northwestern University and President Michael Schill has far-reaching implications for both parties. The charges of breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and claims for punitive damages will be closely examined in the legal proceedings ahead. The involvement of a jury adds an additional layer of complexity to this high-stakes case.