Last Updated on July 28, 2022
The controversial Nick Sandmann had his defamation lawsuits against a multitude of media companies dismissed by a U.S. District Court in Kentucky this week.
Federal Judge William Bertelsman ruled that coverage of Sandmann which said he “blocked” a Native American man were “protected opinions,” and not defamation.
Sandmann exploded amongst Conservative circles after footage of him when he was 16 years old at the March for Life rally in 2019 went viral.
Sandmann was videoed wearing a MAGA hat smirking at and standing in front of Nathan Phillips, a Native American who was banging a drum during an Indigenous Peoples March.
Multiple media outlets and social media users immediately concluded that Sandmann was harassing Phillips.
Sandmann’s lawyers targeted with defamation lawsuits the media outlets that claimed Sandmann “stood in his [Phillips’] way and blocked” the Native American from protesting.
Sandmann filed lawsuits against ABC, CBS, CNN, Gannett, NBC, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Washington Post.
Judge Bertelsman dismissed Sandmann’s cases involving The New York Times, CBS, ABC, Gannett, and Rolling Stone on Wednesday:
“The media defendants were covering a matter of great public interest, and they reported Phillips’s first-person view of what he experienced. This would put the reader on notice that Phillips was simply giving his perspective on the incident. Therefore, in the factual context of this case, Phillips’s ‘blocking’ statements are protected opinions. This holding moots all other motions before the Court.”
Bertelsman added that Phillips’ allegations that Sandmann “blocked” him were merely personal opinions and therefore “objectively unverifiable and thus unactionable opinions.”
“It has long been established that someone’s state of mind is not capable of being proven true or false,” the federal judge noted.
Sandmann’s lawsuits waged against NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post were settled in December 2021.
Sandmann’s lawyer Todd McMurty said they were “disappointed” with the judge’s dismissal decision, but intended to appeal it.
On Twitter, Sandmann explained he would appeal the decision because of “the factual claim the defending media companies made which was used in conjunction with negative connotations of racism and harassment that defamed me.”
I should be able to proceed due to the factual claim the defending media companies made which was used in conjunction with negative connotations of racism and harassment that defamed me.
— Nicholas Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) July 28, 2022
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