A federal judge on Monday reopened the $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann against the Washington Post, who spread malicious lies about him earlier this year.
The ruling by US District Court Judge William Bertelsman partially reverses a July decision to dismiss the suit on grounds that opinions published by WaPo from Native American activist Nathan Phillips were protected under the First Amendment.
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Nypost.com reports: Based off an amended complaint filed by the Kentucky student’s legal team, Bertelsman granted the plaintiff the ability to seek discovery from the Washington Post on three of 33 alleged libelous statements reported in the paper documenting the Jan. 18 incident in Washington, DC, according to the Washington Times.
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The three statements include Phillips’ published view that Sandmann was deliberately blocking him when the two crossed paths in separate rallies.
Bertelsman in his order said: “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.”
The Kentucky student was with his class in the nation’s capital taking part in an anti-abortion rally when he was confronted by Philips, who was there for an Indigenous Peoples’ March.
Subsequent footage of Sandmann and his classmates appearing to surround the older man led to fierce criticism of the teens online.
His lawyers have claimed the newspaper’s coverage of the incident led to a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” Sandmann.
Attorney Todd V. McMurtry, who represents the Sandmann family, told the paper in an email, “We can consider this a huge victory and look forward to initiating discovery against the Washington Post.”
Sandmann has brought similar lawsuits against NBC and CNN.