A Kentucky federal judge has now allowed three lawsuits filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann to proceed.
In his latest decision regarding the matter, Judge William Bertelsman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky ruled Thursday that Sandmann’s $275 million lawsuit against NBCUniversal can proceed.
“U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman dismissed parts of the lawsuit while allowing discovery on allegations that the network’s coverage defamed the teen by reporting that he ‘blocked’ Native American elder Nathan Phillips in a Jan. 18 encounter at the Lincoln Memorial,” The Washington Times reported.
In January, a viral video showed Sandmann standing still in front of Native American demonstrator Nathan Phillips, who was playing the drum.
At the time, The Washington Post, CNN and NBCUniversal claimed Sandmann obstructed Phillips from retreating.
Sandmann’s lawyers, however, have alleged in court documents that those statements were false and libelous.
In his order allowing Sandmann’s case against The Post to proceed, Bertelsman said the court would consider only three of the 33 statements that Sandmann’s lawyers argued were defamatory.
He wrote that “justice requires” further discovery regarding the three statements.
In his court order Thursday addressing the suit against NBCUniversal, Bertelsman said NBC’s motion to dismiss the case was being “granted in part and denied in part for the same reasons” as the motions to dismiss the suits involving CNN and The Post.
“[T]he court finds that the statements that plaintiff ‘blocked’ Phillips or did not allow him to retreat, if false, meet the test of being libelous per se,” he wrote.
NBCUniversal will be required to participate in a preliminary pretrial conference on Jan. 7, 2020.
“As predicted, today Judge Bertelsman entered an order allowing the Nicholas Sandmann case against NBCUniversal to proceed to discovery just as he had earlier ruled with respect to WaPo & CNN cases,” Sandmann’s attorney, Lin Wood, tweeted.
“Huge, huge win!”
As predicted, today Judge Bertelsman entered an order allowing the Nicholas Sandmann case against NBCUniversal to proceed to discovery just as he had earlier ruled with respect to WaPo & CNN cases. Huge, huge win!
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) November 21, 2019
Sandmann’s legal team released a video in March explaining their decision to file such massive lawsuits against a number of media outlets:
“Last January, 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann was falsely targeted, attacked, vilified and threatened,” the video’s narrator said.
“The Washington Post, owned by the richest man in the world, led the print media’s false attacks against Nicholas’ reputation. CNN led the broadcast media’s charge against Nicholas. Both recklessly spread lies about a minor to advance their own financial and political agendas.”
“Despite raw video debunking the false narrative, The Post and CNN doubled down on their reckless lies,” the video continued.
“Lies that will forever haunt and endanger the life of an innocent young man. Lies that further divided our nation.”
“How long will we allow these media giants to tear at the fabric of our lives to further their own agendas? Will they ever be held accountable? Yes, they will,” the narrator said.
“Nicholas Sandman has taken a stand for himself and for you by filing major lawsuits against CNN and The Washington Post. Nicholas and his legal team will not be stopped until these Goliath corporations are held accountable for their lack of journalistic integrity. Until then, no one’s reputation is safe.”
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