The $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by a Covington Catholic High School student against The Washington Post for its coverage of his viral standoff in January with a Native American activist in Washington, D.C. has been dismissed, USA Today reported.
Attorneys for the Kentucky student, Nick Sandmann, said the coverage of the incident led to a "mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened" Sandmann, according to the New York Post.
They alleged that the essence of the Post's first article on the encounter with Nathan Phillips conveyed that Sandmann had assaulted or physically intimidated the Native American activist, engaged in racist conduct, and engaged in taunts, USA Today reported.
But U.S. District Court Judge Willian Bertelsman said in his ruling on Friday that "this is not supported by the plain language in the article, which states none of these things."
Bertelsman accepted Sandmann's statement that he was only standing motionless across from Phillips, without ill intent, but ruled that Phillips, who told the media he felt threatened, had a First Amendment right to express his opinion, even if it turned out to be erroneous, and that the paper was within its rights to publish those views.
The Post said it's "pleased" with the judge's decision, issuing a statement that, "From our first story on this incident to our last, we sought to report fairly and accurately the facts that could be established from available evidence, the perspectives of all of the participants, and the comments of the responsible church and school officials," CNN reported.
Sandmann's parents plan to appeal the decision, with his father Ted Sandmann saying, "If what was done to Nicholas is not legally actionable, then no one is safe."
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