Sandmann Settles Litigation Against CNN for $750,000 in 2 Federal Defamation Actions
Lawsuits alleged CNN made a "vicious attack" against the Kentucky high school student after protest march
January 12, 2020
CNN settled with Nick Sandmann, a Kentucky high school student who had sued the news outlet for defamation.
A CNN spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the claims had been settled.
CNN paid Sandmann and his lawyers $750,000, small money to the network, but enough to put the young man through college. Attorney's fees are not public, but are customarily around one third of the recovery in such cases.
In any defamation action against a news organization, a defendant can argue that it has a First Amendment right to present the news in an accurate but opinionated manner.
For this reason, the action may simply have been dismissed by the Judge on a proper motion, at some time before trial. Legal experts say this must have been a concern to Sandmann's legal counsel. CNN's legal counsel would not have wanted to be seen encouraging lawsuits against the network, by paying significant settlement money.
Sandmann's lawyers initiated a second complaint on Sandmann's behalf on March 12, 2019, also in US District Court in Covington KY.
The action plead for US$275 million in damages, for "vicious" and "direct attacks" by CNN on Sandmann. On January 7, 2020, CNN settled the lawsuit with Nick Sandmann. The amount of the settlement has not been made public, but was made available to the public through court documents.
"The Leftist media piled onto this young man, accusing him of things he did not actually do or say," explained Rush Limbaugh in a broadcast. NN and its lawyers did not comment on the details of the settlement. Nick's lawyers did not respond to phone calls or emails from us asking for comment.
Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School, became part of a social media firestorm last January after being filmed with Nathan Phillips at a demonstration in Washington, D.C. Sandmann's lawsuit sought $800 million from CNN, the Washington Post and NBC Universal.
The ubiquitous video shows Nick and Phillips standing close to each other in a crowd. Nick stares at Phillips as he plays a drum. The situation unfolded after the March for Life on Jan. 18, which Sandmann and his classmates attended. Phillips was attending the Indigenous Peoples March.