Did Sandmann's Lawyers Just Cost Him Millions?

  • 2019-02-20
  • Source: AAN
  • by: AAN Staff
Did Sandmann's Lawyers Just Cost Him Millions?
James McNellis from Washington, DC, United States [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann's attorneys filed a lawsuit against the Washington Post yesterday for publishing inaccurate and libelous statements about him regarding a viral confrontation with a Native American protester.

Sandmann's counsel is seeking $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages. The $250 million total is the same amount Jeff Bezos paid when buying the Post in 2013. 

However, a rookie mistake may have blown their chance at getting 80 percent of this. 

Per Law & Crime:

The Jan. 18 incident involving Sandmann first drew national attention when video surfaced that led to media reports that Sandmann and his classmates were antagonizing Native American Nathan Phillips. Later on, additional footage was discovered that added context, showing that this was not the case, and that Phillips and a group who was present for an Indigenous People’s demonstration had approached the Covington Catholic students, who were there for a March for Life demonstration. The students, meanwhile, had been the target of insults from a group identifying as Hebrew Israelites.

The complaint cites seven articles published in the Post that allegedly contained false and defamatory statements about Sandmann, furthering the narrative that Sandmann was an instigator and a racist. The complaint accuses the Post of demonstrating negligence, as well as actual malice (knowledge of a statement’s falsity or reckless disregard for whether it’s true) in publishing the statements.


The punitive damages, however, may be a problem due to a requirement under Kentucky law to give sufficient notice in libel cases. The statute, KRS 411.051, says that in order to collect punitive damages, a plaintiff has to show that the defendant “failed to make conspicuous and timely publication of a correction after receiving a sufficient demand for correction.” The law specifies that a “timely” correction has to be within 10 business days after receiving a demand for one.

Sandmann’s complaint, which was filed and dated Feb. 19, 2019, says that his counsel sent a demand for a retraction on Feb. 14. That’s just five days before they filed the lawsuit, which appears to be an insufficient amount of time.

If there was no other demand for a retraction or correction before February 14, the request for punitive damages could be ruled improper.

This story is developing. Stay with American Action News for the latest updates.

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 Source: AAN
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