Judge Partially Reopens Nick Sandmann's Defamation Lawsuit Against WaPo

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Posted: Oct 29, 2019 7:31 AM
Judge Partially Reopens Nick Sandmann's Defamation Lawsuit Against WaPo

Source: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

A federal judge in Kentucky is allowing part of Covington Catholic high school student Nick Sandmann’s $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post to continue after initially dismissing the case in July.

Sandmann was the teen at the center of the media frenzy over his interaction with a Native American activist at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January. The Post and many other outlets falsely smeared him as a racist, prompting widespread harassment of Sandmann and his classmates, and even death threats, which prompted their high school to close. Other videos of the encounter later surfaced showing the encounter the media portrayed was a complete lie. Sandmann's attorneys set the record straight in this video if you need a full recap.  

Monday’s decision, allowing the case to obtain documents from WaPo during the discovery phase, came after Judge William Bertelsman reviewed an amended complaint from Sandmann’s legal team.

Judge Bertelsman's ruling specifically concerned reporting by The Post, citing claims by Phillips that Sandmann had "blocked" him and "would not allow him to retreat."

The judge ruled that an amended complaint submitted by Sandmann's attorneys "alleged in greater detail than the original complaint that Phillips deliberately lied concerning the events at issue, and that Phillips had "an unsavory reputation which, but for the defendant’s negligence or malice, would have alerted defendant to this fact."

The judge noted that the new complaint "also alleges that [Sandmann] could be identified as the subject of [Phillips' statements] by reason of certain photographs of [Sandmann] and the videos" of the episode.

In a 36-page ruling in July that dismissed all of Sandmann's claims based on his initial complaint, Judge Bertelsman said that The Post never mentioned Sandmann by name in its initial coverage of the incident, referring only to groups of "hat-wearing teens." The judge maintained that "the words used contain no reflection upon any particular individual" and thus could not be constituted as defamation. (Fox News)

Sandmann's legal team called the news a "huge win."