Newspaper, Kentucky Teen Settle Lawsuit Over D.C. Encounter

Nicholas Sandmann, 16, a student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American activist Nathan Phillips in Washington, U.S. (Kaya Taitano. Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via REUTERS/File Photo)

A Kentucky teen and The Washington Post have settled a lawsuit over the newspaper’s coverage of his encounter with a Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington last year.

The teen’s lawyers said on social media Friday that they reached an undisclosed settlement with the paper. The order of dismissal from U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman said the two parties agreed to the dismissal, with each side paying its own costs.

Nicholas Sandmann, an 18-year-old student at Covington Catholic High School, sued the newspaper for $250 million, alleging that it had engaged in “targeting and bullying” and modern “McCarthyism.”

Both Sandmann and the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, say they were trying to defuse tensions rising among three groups on a day when Washington hosted both March for Life, attended by the Covington students, and the Indigenous Peoples March. Video of the encounter showed Sandmann and Phillips standing very close to each other, with Sandmann staring and at times smiling at Phillips as Phillips sang and played a drum.

In Sandmann’s lawsuit against The Washington Post, his attorneys highlighted seven articles and three Twitter social media posts they considered defamatory to Sandmann.

Bertelsman dismissed the suit in July 2019, writing that there may have been “erroneous” opinions published by the Post, but they are protected by the First Amendment.

But Bertelsman in October allowed further review of statements published by the newspaper of Phillips alleging he was “blocked” by Sandmann and Sandmann “would not allow him to retreat.”

“We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit,” Washington Post Vice President of Communications Kristine Coratti Kelly said in a statement to The Kentucky Enquirer.

Sandmann’s attorney’s have sued seven other media organizations, including NBC, ABC News, CBS and The New York Times. Sandmann settled with CNN in January, though the details were not disclosed.

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