NBCUniversal Slapped With $275 Million Defamation Suit by Covington Student

Lawyers for Nick Sandmann say NBCU relied “heavily on biased and unreliable sources without conducting any reasonable investigation”

Last Updated: May 2, 2019 @ 6:16 AM

NBCUniversal was slapped with a $275 million lawsuit by Covington student Nick Sandmann on Wednesday. Sandmann’s lawyers have accused the network of defaming him during their coverage of a viral stand off between the student and a native American tribal elder at the Lincoln Memorial in January.

“NBCUniversal’s attacks on Nicholas included at least fifteen defamatory television broadcasts, six defamatory online articles, and many tweets falsely accusing Nicholas and his Covington Catholic High School (‘CovCath’) classmates of racists acts,” the suit reads. “NBCUniversal created a false narrative by portraying the ‘confrontation’ as a ‘hate crime’ committed by Nicholas.”

The suit also accused the network of “relying heavily on biased and unreliable sources without conducting any reasonable investigation of the circumstances surrounding the January 18 incident.”

The suit was filed in in the Eastern District of Kentucky by attorneys Todd V. McMurtry and Lin Wood. You can read the full complaint here. 

Reps for NBCUniversal did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

The most recent legal action is only the latest for the litigious high school student and his family who also filed a $275 million suit against CNN last month and a $250 million suit against the Washington Post back in February. Both earlier suits were also for defamation based on coverage from Sandmann’s January standoff.

Multiple first amendment attorney’s who spoke with TheWrap in February said the legal efforts had virtually no chance of success, though the Washington Post issued a lengthy editor’s note to some of their earlier Sandmann reporting back in March.

The incident rocketed into the national consciousness when on Jan. 19, Sandmann and a number of other students from Covington Catholic High School were confronted by Nathan Phillips, a native American tribal elder on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. While many students were seen chanting and making what were later described as disrespectful gestures, Sandmann bore the brunt of media attention and online outrage.

A GQ writer called for the students to be doxxed, a freelancer at Vulture wished death on the students and their families and film producer Jack Morrissey shared a gruesome image of the students going into a wood chipper.

In an interview with the “Today” show a week later, Sandmann said he wished he would have just moved away, but pointedly refused to apologize.

“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him,” he said. “But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”