Attorneys for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann are suing the Washington Post, seeking $250 million in damages — the amount that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid to purchase the Washington Post in 2013. The attorneys stated that they have plans to bring other “wrongdoers” before the court to seek damages in compensation for harm done to the Sandmann family. The defendants are likely to be other media companies and celebrities or public personalities that express threats publicly on the Internet and social media.
The law firm Hemmer DeFrank Wessels on Tuesday wrote a post on the official blog associated with their website, stating attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry have filed the lawsuit on behalf of Nicholas Sandmann against the Washington Post for “compensatory and punitive damages.”
“This is only the beginning,” the law firm said on a web page introducing a copy of the the plaintiffs’ complaint in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky Northern Division at Covington.
Sandmann, along with other students of Covington Catholic High School, was in Washington D. C. on January 18, 2019 for the annual March for Life rally. Sandmann was wearing a red Make American Great Again (MAGA) hat. In a video that was edited to make it appear that Sandmann was the offender, Sandmann was portrayed as a smirky punk that was in an encounter with an innocent Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips. Several hours later, full unedited videos were released by other sources that showed that Sandmann was standing in position when Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips walked up to Sandmann, beating a drum and chanting loudly within inches of Sandmann’s face. Nathan Phillips was a complete stranger to Nick Sandmann, and Nick Sandmann had no way of knowing or predicting whether it was safe to stand there while Nathan Phillips was waving a stick inches from his face.
Nathan Phillips had already been playing a drum and chanting at the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on the same day before he walked over to confront the Covington Catholic High School students, selecting Sandmann especially … for some unknown reason.
The first video had already gone viral, effecting widespread accusations of bigotry as photos of the teenager were shared on social media. In the second video, a group of black men who identify as members of the Hebrew Israelites, were seen taunting the much younger Covington Catholic High School students with threatening and disparaging comments and shouting racist slurs at the students and at the participants of the Indigenous Peoples Rally.
The lawsuit, which Sandmann’s attorneys posted on their website, claims that the Washington Post “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann (“Nicholas”), an innocent secondary school child.”
Furthermore, Sandmann’s attorneys claim that “The Post wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red “Make America Great Again” souvenir cap on a school field trip to the January 18 March for Life in Washington, D.C. when he was unexpectedly and suddenly confronted by Nathan Phillips (“Phillips”), a known Native American activist, who beat a drum and sang loudly within inches of his face (“the January 18 incident”).”
Attorneys also claim that “in targeting and bullying Nicholas by falsely accusing him of instigating the January 18 incident, the Post conveyed that Nicholas engaged in acts of racism by ‘swarming’ Phillips, ‘blocking’ his exit away from the students, and otherwise engaging in racist misconduct.”
Sandmann’s attorneys say that the Washington Post “ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.”
In a prior post on the attorneys’ blog in January 2019, the attorneys explained that a “mob comprised of activists, church and school officials, members of the mainstream print and broadcast media, and individuals on social media, including elected public officials and celebrities, rushed to condemn and vilify this young man by burying him in an avalanche of false accusations, false portrayals, and cyberbullying that have threatened his reputation and his physical safety.“
The Washington Post released a statement, saying that the company is “reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”
Major news outlets, such as the Associated Press and CNN also covered the incident, but have not been named in a lawsuit.
In interviews that occurred after the longer videos revealed more facts about the encounter, Sandmann said, “I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him [Phillips] to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.” However, social media posts expressed repulsion regarding the smile, and Iranian-American author and religious studies scholar Reza Aslan posted on Twitter a photo of Sandmann and Phillips with the statement, “Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?”
Hemmer DeFrank Wessels Attorneys at Law | For truth, for justice, for Nicholas! (Includes PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT WITH JURY DEMAND)
Hemmer DeFrank Wessels Attorneys at Law | STATEMENT OF ATTORNEYS L. LIN WOOD and TODD MCMURTRY ON BEHALF OF NICK SANDMANN AND HIS FAMILY
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