Judge Reopens Covington Catholic Student's Defamation Suit Against Washington Post
On Monday evening, a federal judge in Kentucky reopened the $250 million defamation case filed by Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann. The judge had previously dismissed the case in July, but is now allowing the lawsuit to proceed with a narrower focus.
U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman agreed to permit discovery on three of 33 allegedly libelous statements in The Post’s coverage of the Jan. 18 incident pertaining to teenager Nicholas Sandmann. The Post has insisted that its reporting was fair and accurate.
All three flagged statements from the newspaper’s coverage refer to Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips being blocked or impeded by Nicholas, a student at Covington Catholic High School, during their viral encounter at the Lincoln Memorial stairs.
“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,’” Judge Bertelsman said in his Monday order.
“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,” he said.
The Sandmann family's attorneys, Todd V. McMurtry and L. Lin Wood, celebrated the judge's order:
Separate lawsuits against CNN and NBCUniversal have also been filed.