November 17, 2019

Judge Rules for Covington Kids vs Washington Post and Reopens Case

Nicholas Sandmann will not be able to repair his reputation without proceeding with his lawsuits against The Washington Post and other media outlets, attorney Todd McMurtry said on Tuesday.

On Monday, a federal judge reversed his own ruling by partially reopening the Covington Catholic High School student’s $250 million defamation lawsuit over the media’s coverage of his confrontation with a Native American protester in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

The new ruling, by District Judge William O. Bertelsman, is based on an amended complaint filed by Sandmann’s legal team. The decision permitted Sandmann to obtain documents from The Post during an upcoming discovery process, as his lawyers have sought to argue that the paper negligently reported on Sandmann’s interactions with a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, while the student wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat and stood outside the Lincoln Memorial in January.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” with host Ainsley Earhardt, McMurtry said that when the case was initially dismissed by Bertelsman, they had not provided all of the evidence that showed what “Phillips had done on the mall that day.”

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McMurtry said they believe the video evidence shows that “Nathan Phillips presented a false factual narrative when he described what happened” and the judge was “persuaded by the additional video evidence.”

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.”

McMurtry tweeted that the ruling “bodes well for the NBC and CNN cases, as well.”

“The initial kind of unedited, unsourced viral video that The Post linked to its articles just showed a snippet of what happened,” said McMurtry.

He told Earhardt he believes that the new evidence shows that Phillips confronted Sandmann and in a statement to The Washington Times, McMurty said the ruling “preserves the heart of Nicholas Sandmann’s claims.”

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to present our case very aggressively against all of the defendants whom we have sued. And, the idea [is] to help Nicholas repair his reputation,” McMurtry said.

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“So, when you talk about the case being worth millions of dollars, think about how much money was spent. Or, the equivalent value of spending that much money to defame Nicholas Sandmann,” he explained.

“When you have the full weight of The Washington Post and other news sources all out against a young man like that, what’s the value of undoing all of that?” he asked Earhardt.

McMurtry said that 17-year-old Sandmann is doing well, but he is “not able – without the benefits of these lawsuits – to undo the damage to his reputation.”

Bertelsman has called a hearing for Dec. 3 to go over scheduling for Sandmann’s case.

By Julia Musto


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