Nick Sandmann sues Washington Post for $250 million
Attorneys for Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann filed Tuesday a $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post, accusing the newspaper of targeting the teenager in “a modern-day form of McCarthyism.”
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Kentucky came as the first of what could be dozens of lawsuits stemming from the Jan. 18 viral encounter in which Covington Catholic students were initially depicted as harassing Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips.
The motion argued that the newspaper falsely conveyed the impression that the 16-year-old “engaged in acts of racism by ‘swarming’ Phillips, ‘blocking’ his exit away from the students, and otherwise engaging in racist misconduct.”
“The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President,” said the filing on the Hemmer DeFrank Wessels law firm site.
The attorneys, L. Lin Wood of Atlanta and Todd V. McMurtry of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, also suggested that more lawsuits would be filed. They sent a letter last month to 54 media entities, celebrities, lawmakers and Catholic dioceses asking them to preserve information related to the incident and warning of legal action.
Defamation lawsuits are notoriously difficult to win, but Mr. Wood has had remarkable success in securing out-of-court settlements for high-profile figures.
Nicholas Sandmann, who sued the newspaper through his parents, Ted and Julie Sandmann, became an international figure after video showed him standing face-to-face with Mr. Phillips in a crowd of students on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The teen was vilified on social media until more extensive footage released later showed that Mr. Phillips initiated the contact by approaching the group of Covington Catholic students and worked his way into their cheer circle as he beat a drum.
Mr. Phillips has accused the boys of intimidating him and shouting “build the wall,” a reference to Mr. Trump’s border wall, although video footage posted so far has failed to show any such chants.
The teens were waiting at the memorial for buses home after attending the pro-life March for Life, while Mr. Phillips had participated in the Indigenous Peoples March. Both events were held the same day in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuit accused the newspaper of “bullying,” saying that it “bullied an innocent child with an absolute disregard for the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”
The request for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages was described as the amount paid by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos when he purchased the newspaper in 2013.