Judge Reinstates Covington Teen's $250M Defamation Suit Against Washington Post
Park Hills, KY – A federal judge in Kentucky reinstated a Covington Catholic High School student's $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post.
The lawsuit accused The Washington Post of "a modern-day form of McCarthyism" and alleged the newspaper targeted 16-year-old Nick Sandmann and "using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles... to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president."
The Washington Post has insisted its reporting was fair and accurate, The Washington Times reported.
On Jan. 18, a group of teenage boys from Covington Catholic High School were filmed doing school spirit chants as they waited for their bus to pick up their group at the Lincoln Memorial.
A video was posted of an elderly man beating on a drum in the midst of the group of boys, and the poster alleged that the boys had surrounded the man in a threatening manner.
Social media went wild condemning the boys, many of whom were sporting Make America Great Again baseball caps.
Eventually, Sandmann outed himself as the teen in front of the group, smiling at the old man as he beat his drum and chanted.
"I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers,” Sandmann said, according to NBC News.
Additional videos were released that showed the high school boys were being heckled by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites when the Native American man drummed his way into the middle of their group.
Black Hebrew Israelites are a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated black supremacist hate group who believe that they are the lost tribe of Israel and that other Jews are imposters.
Despite a hate group being present harassing children, the native man confronted the group of teens.
Many of the boys’ critics who had initially condemned Sandmann and his classmates walked back their harsh comments after seeing the full videos of what actually happened.
But a number of major news media organizations, including The Washington Post, have not apologized for irreparably damaging the teen’s reputation and calling on followers to harm him.
The lawsuit against The Washington Post accused the newspaper of ignoring the truth and falsely accusing Sandmann of accosting Phillips.
U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman initially dismissed the case in July, but will now permit the lawsuit to proceed while narrowing its focus, according to The Washington Times.
The judge agreed to allow discovery to proceed on three of the 33 allegedly libelous statements made in The Washington Post’s coverage of the incident.
The three statements that have been specifically flagged by the judge referred to Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips being blocked by Sandmann when they were at the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Times reported.
“The Court will adhere to its previous rulings as they pertain to these statements except Statements 10, 11, and 33, to the extent that these three statements state that plaintiff ‘blocked’ Nathan Phillips and ‘would not allow him to retreat,’” Bertelsman ruled. “Suffice to say that the Court has given this matter careful review and concludes that ‘justice requires’ that discovery be had regarding these statements and their context. The Court will then consider them anew on summary judgment.”
Sandmann’s attorney, Todd McMurtry, called the judge’s order a huge victory.
“The Sandmann family and our legal team are grateful that Judge Bertelsman allowed the case to proceed,” McMurtry said in an email to The Washington Times. “The Court’s ruling preserves the heart of the Nicholas Sandmann’s claims. We can consider this a huge victory and look forward to initiating discovery against The Washington Post.”
Sandmann’s attorneys have also filed $275 million lawsuits against CNN and NBCUniversal for their reporting on the incident.