|L-R Nick Sandmann, Nathan Phillips|
You may recall the sad tale of the ‘smirking teen’ who became the center of attention when he stood across from a Native American elder on the National Mall, appearing to block the elder’s path.
The teen, Nick Sandmann, eventually filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Washington Post for defamation in regard to the newspaper’s coverage of the incident.
Today, that lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge.
William Bertelsman, who heard oral arguments in the case earlier this month, issued the ruling on Friday.
Nick and his attorneys, Todd McMurtry and L. Lin Wood, alleged that the gist of The Washington Post’s first article conveyed that Nick had assaulted or physically intimidated Nathan Phillips, engaged in racist conduct, and engaged in taunts.
But, Bertelsman wrote, “this is not supported by the plain language in the article, which states none of these things.”
Bertelsman accepted Nick’s assertion that he was only standing motionless across from Phillips, without ill intent.
But the Eastern District of Kentucky judge ruled that Phillips, who told the media he felt threatened, had a First Amendment right to express his opinion.
“He concluded that he was being blocked and not allowed to retreat,” Bertelsman wrote. “He passed these conclusions on to The Post. They may have been erroneous, but, as discussed above, they are opinion protected by the First Amendment.”
Phillips and Nick were captured on videos that went viral in January when they stood across from each other on the National Mall. Nick stared at Phillips as Phillips participated in a song with other Native Americans.
This video clip went viral, throwing Covington Catholic into the national spotlight. Longer video has since emerged showing how the incident started.Louisville Courier Journal
Bertelsman also ruled it was irrelevant to the defamation case that “Sandmann was scorned on social media.”
Sandmann has also filed lawsuits againt NBC and CNN for their media coverage as well.
Prior to today’s ruling, the teen was looking for a $750 million payday from the three news outlets for the ‘scorn’ he endured.
The other two lawsuits are still pending.
— Neale Scott 🥭🥭🥭🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺 (@nealescott) July 26, 2019