Attorneys for Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann filed a lawsuit against the Washington Post on Tuesday, seeking $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
“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’),” the lawsuit filed by lawyers Todd V. McMurtry and L. Lin Wood in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky reads.
Here is the Complaint filed today against The Washington Post on behalf of Nick Sandmann. All members of the mainstream & social media mob of bullies who recklessly & viciously attacked Nick would be well-served to read it carefully. https://t.co/P3H4x0srlX
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) February 19, 2019
The total sum sought by Sandmann is the same amount Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased the Post for in 2013. The newspaper’s vice president for communications, Kristine Coratti Kelly, said in a statement to Reuters: “We are reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”
In a tweet Saturday, Wood announced via Twitter that he would begin filing defamation lawsuits against several news outlets this week. “Nick Sandmann is 16 years old has 2+ years to identify accusers sue them,” he said. “No member of mainstream social media mob who attacked him should take comfort from not being sued in initial round of lawsuits which will commence next week. Time is Nick’s friend, not his enemy.”
The development comes after investigators hired by a Kentucky diocese have found that Catholic school boys did not instigate a January 18th confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial that went viral on social media. Covington Bishop Roger Foys initially condemned the students’ behavior after a video showed a teenage boy face-to-face with a Native American man. Days later, Foys apologized for “making a statement prematurely.”
The students were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally last month when they encountered a group of black street preachers who were shouting insults at both them and a group of Native Americans. The bishop now says the students “were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening.”
“The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality,” Foys wrote this week in a letter to parents. Both the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, and the Covington student facing Phillips have said they were attempting to defuse the situation.
The four-page report on the investigation said a group of investigators from a firm called Greater Cincinnati Investigation interviewed 43 students and more than a dozen chaperones who were on the trip to Washington. Investigators reviewed social media videos, tried to contact Phillips and traveled to Michigan to attempt to speak to him, but he was not interviewed.
The videos show Phillips surrounded by students. Many interviewed students told investigators that they felt Phillips was coming into their group to join their own cheers, which were meant to drown out insults from the street preachers, who referred to themselves as the Black Hebrew Israelites. Many students reported that they were confused but did not feel threatened by Phillips, the report said.
In an interview with NBC’s Today, Sandmann said that while he had a right to stand in the memorial, he wished the incident could have been avoided. “As far as standing there, I had every right to do so,” Sandmann told interviewer Savannah Guthrie. “My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him. I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
“In hindsight, I wish we had just found another spot to wait for our buses, but at the time being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things,” the high school student added. “So, I wish we could have walked away.”
Sandmann then went on to explain that he did not simply walk away from Phillips because he did not want to appear disrespectful to him. “Well, now I wish I would have walked away. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mr. Phillips and walk away if he was trying to talk to me, but certainly I was surrounded by a lot of people I didn’t know that had their phones out, had cameras and I didn’t want to bump into anyone or seem like I was trying to do something,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.