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Nanny Defaults On Lawsuit

British au pair Louise Woodward has defaulted on a civil lawsuit filed against her by the parents of an eight-month-old who was fatally injured in her care, attorneys said Thursday.

A federal court entered a default judgment Thursday on the wrongful death claim brought by Deborah and Sunil Eappen, the parents of Matthew Eappen, said their attorney, Fredric Ellis.

Woodward's default on the lawsuit is essentially an admittance of responsibility for the death of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen, according to the Eappen's attorney.

Unless Ms. Woodward asks the court to set aside the judgment, she would waive her right to a trial and the Eappens would be allowed to seek an order of money damages.

Ms. Woodward's attorney in England said she did not have enough money to defend herself in the civil suit.

"Quite simply, she is not in a financial position to defend the action in America," said Peter Quinn. "It's not an admission of guilt. She maintains her innocence."

Ms. Woodward had 20 days to respond to the June 16 lawsuit, which also is trying to bar her from profiting from the sale of her story. The 20-day deadline ended Tuesday without a response from Ms. Woodward, Ellis said.

Ms. Woodward returned to England last month after the state's highest court let stand a lower court's manslaughter conviction and sentence of the 279 days she'd served since her February 1997 arrest.

It's unclear whether an injunction preventing her from profiting would be applicable in England. Ms. Woodward has denied she plans to sell her story.

Written by Robin Estrin