Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann loses defamation lawsuits against Rolling Stone, CBS, ABC, NYT, and Gannett

Former Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann lost his defamation lawsuits against Rolling Stone, CBS, ABC, NYT, and Gannett.

William O. Bertelsman, a Senior U.S. District Judge  in the Eastern District of Kentucky, dismissed the cases during summary judgment, and the court record states the suits are "terminated."

Sandmann filed the lawsuits against the five media companies (along with CNN and NBC) in 2020, alleging that they had mischaracterized his behavior toward Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, at a 2019 rally in Washington, D.C.

Sandmann's lawsuit said:

ABC's reporting conveyed the false and defamatory charges that Nicholas "stood in [Phillips'] way," "blocked [Phillips'] way and wouldn't allow [Phillips] to retreat," and that Nicholas "wouldn't let [Phillips'] move," while a mass of other young white boys "swarm[ed]," taunted, jeered and physically intimidated Phillips.

CNN and NBC settled with Sandmann early on. The terms of the settlement were not made public.

In dismissing the other lawsuits, the judge said the statements about blocking were "objectively unverifiable and thus unactionable opinions":

Applying the above legal authorities, and with the benefit of a more developed record, the Court concludes that Phillips's statements that Sandmann "blocked" him and "wouldn't allow [him] to retreat" are objectively unverifiable and thus unactionable opinions.

Instead, a reasonable reader would understand that Phillips was simply conveying his view of the situation. And because the reader knew from the articles that this encounter occurred at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, he or she would know that the confrontation occurred in an expansive area such that it would be difficult to know what might constitute "blocking" another person in that setting.

Law & Crime has a good recap of what happened.