This case was last updated from U.S. District Courts on 07/28/2022 at 12:40:29 (UTC).

Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc. et al

Case Summary

On March 2, 2020, Nicholas Sandmann, by and through his parents and natural guardians, Ted Sandmann and Julie Sandmann, (“Plaintiff”), represented by Jeffrey A. Standen, John W. Huber, Kyle M. Winslow, and Todd V. McMurtry of Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC, L. Lin Wood of L. Lin Wood, PC, and Nikki Baker of Peterson Baker, PLLC, filed a personal injury lawsuit against ABC News, Inc., ABC News Interactive, Inc., and The Walt Disney Company (collectively, “Defendants”), represented by Adam M. Lazier, Meenakshi Krishnan, Nathan E. Siegel, and Nicolette A. Vairo of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (CA) and Robert B. Craig of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP, seeking damages for alleged defamation. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, with Judges Candace J. Smith and David L. Bunning presiding.

In the complaint, the plaintiff claimed, “This is a defamation action arising out of ABC’s publication and republication of a false and defamatory factual narrative accusing Plaintiff Nicholas Sandmann (‘Nicholas’), at the time a 16-year old minor high school student, of racist misconduct at the National Mall on January 18, 2019.”

Plaintiff then alleged, “ABC’s coverage of the January 18 Incident included at least sixteen (16) online articles, only four (4) of which are the subject of this action (collectively, the ‘False and Defamatory Publications’). ABC also published several broadcasts concerning the January 18 Incident, which were embedded in the False and Defamatory Publications.”

The plaintiff then alleged, “ABC’s reporting conveyed the false and defamatory assertion that while at the Lincoln Memorial, Nicholas confronted and threateningly instigated a confrontation with Phillips, a Native American activist who was purportedly praying and singing during the Indigenous Peoples March.”

Plaintiff then claimed that “Nicholas and his CovCath classmates were bullied, attacked, and confronted with racist and homophobic slurs and threats of violence by the Black Hebrew Israelites, a recognized hate group, before being unexpectedly confronted without explanation by Phillips, an activist, who proceeded to target Nicholas while chanting and beating a drum inches from his face and being flanked by activist companions filming the event in the hopes of capturing a viral sensation that would be used to advance, via social media, an ulterior political agenda.”

The plaintiff then alleged that “ABC inexcusably relied on a false, incomplete and out-of-context viral video, published to Twitter on the evening of January 18, 2019, which showed Nicholas in a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat looking at Phillips. This viral video was originally published by a politically-weaponized Twitter account.”

Plaintiff additionally alleged, “ABC engaged in an agenda-driven campaign to bully, harass, threaten, disparage and vilify Nicholas—a minor who literally and factually did nothing more than stand still when unexpectedly confronted by Phillips and his companions who pointed a myriad of cameras at Nicholas in the hopes of capturing a viral encounter.”

The plaintiff further alleged, “By failing to correct its false reporting, ABC continued to promote its false narrative that Nicholas had instigated a racist confrontation with Phillips, long after Phillips was exposed as a fraud whose fictitious version of the January 18 Incident was disavowed by responsible members of the media.”

Plaintiff presented one claim for the alleged defamation. In the prayer for relief, the plaintiff requested an award of compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, expenses, and costs.

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Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    2:20-CV-00025

  • Filing Date:

    03/02/2020

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Other Disposed

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Assault/Battery/Defamation

Judge Details

Referral Judge

Candace J. Smith

Presiding Judges

David L. Bunning

William O. Bertelsman

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

Nicholas Sandmann

Defendants

ABC News Interactive, Inc.

ABC News, Inc.

The Walt Disney Company

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

L. Lin Wood

Attorney at L. Lin Wood, PC

1180 W. Peachtree Street, Suite 2040

Atlanta, GA 30309

Jeffrey Allen Standen

Attorney at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC

250 Grandview Drive, Suite 500

Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017

Kyle M. Winslow

Attorney at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC

250 Grandview Avenue, Suite 500

Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017

Nikki Baker

Attorney at Peterson Baker, PLLC

701 S. Seventh Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

Todd VanDerVeer McMurtry

Attorney at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC

250 Grandview Avenue, Suite 500

Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017

John William Huber

Attorney at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC

250 Grandview Avenue, Suite 500

Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017

Defendant Attorneys

Nathan E. Siegel

Attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP - DC

1301 K Street, N.W., Suite 500 E.

Washington, DC 20005

Robert B. Craig

Attorney at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP - Covington

50 E. Rivercenter Boulevard, Suite 850

Covington, KY 41011

Adam M. Lazier

Attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP - New York

1251 Avenue Of The Americas, 21St Floor

New York, NY 10020

Nicolette A. Vairo

Attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP - CA

865 S. Figueroa Street, Suite 2400

Los Angeles, CA 90017

Meenakshi Krishnan

Attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP - DC

1301 K Street, N.W., Suite 500 E.

Washington, DC 20005

 

Court Documents

#95

(#95) JUDGMENT is ENTERED IN DEFENDANT'S FAVOR. This matter is STRICKEN from the docket of this Court. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/26/2022.(TJZ)cc: COR (Entered: 07/26/2022)

#94

(#94) MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) Plaintiff's motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of falsity (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 52); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 58); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 64); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 65); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 59)) be, and are hereby, DENIED AS MOOT;(2) Defendants' joint motions for summary judgment (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 53); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 59); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 65); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 66); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 60)) be, and are hereby, GRANTED;(3) Defendants' motions to strike (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 64); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 72); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 78); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 78); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 72)) be, and are hereby, DENIED AS MOOT; and(4) Separate judgments shall enter concurrently herewith in each of these cases. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/26/2022.(TJZ)cc: COR (Entered: 07/26/2022)

#93

(#93) ORDER: that the oral argument set for Tuesday, July 26, 2022 be, and is hereby, CANCELLED. All pending motions (Docs. #64 , #65 , #78 ) are hereby TAKEN UNDER SUBMISSION. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/21/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/21/2022)

#92

(#92) ORDER: that counsel are not allowed to bring cell phones into court during this hearing. Laptops needed for presentations or note taking are permitted on the express condition that no recording or streaming of the proceedings is permitted, and the laptops may not be used to access the internet while in the courtroom. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/19/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/19/2022)

#90

(#90) ORDER: that defendant shall file a list identifying by description the complete list of exhibits used in plaintiff's deposition on or before Friday, July 8, 2022. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/6/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/06/2022)

1 #13

Summons ABC News, Inc.

1 #11

Exhibit ABC's Fourth Online Article

1 #10

Exhibit ABC's Third Online Article

1 #9

Exhibit H-ABC's Second Online Article

1 #8

Exhibit G-ABC's First Online Article

1 #7

Exhibit F-Diocese of Covington Letter February 11

1 #5

Exhibit D-Diocese of Covington Letter January 25

1 #4

Exhibit C-Nicholas' January 20 Statement

1 #3

Exhibit B-WaPo Editor's Note

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Docket Entries

  • 07/26/2022
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  • Docket(#95) JUDGMENT is ENTERED IN DEFENDANT'S FAVOR. This matter is STRICKEN from the docket of this Court. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/26/2022.(TJZ)cc: COR (Entered: 07/26/2022)

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  • 07/26/2022
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  • Docket(#94) MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) Plaintiff's motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of falsity (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 52); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 58); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 64); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 65); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 59)) be, and are hereby, DENIED AS MOOT;(2) Defendants' joint motions for summary judgment (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 53); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 59); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 65); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 66); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 60)) be, and are hereby, GRANTED;(3) Defendants' motions to strike (Sandmann v. New York Times, No. 20cv23 (Doc. 64); Sandmann v. CBS News, No. 20cv24 (Doc. 72); Sandmann v. ABC News, Inc., No. 20cv25 (Doc. 78); Sandmann v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 20cv26 (Doc. 78); Sandmann v. Rolling Stone, LLC, No. 20cv27 (Doc. 72)) be, and are hereby, DENIED AS MOOT; and(4) Separate judgments shall enter concurrently herewith in each of these cases. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/26/2022.(TJZ)cc: COR (Entered: 07/26/2022)

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  • 07/21/2022
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  • Docket(#93) ORDER: that the oral argument set for Tuesday, July 26, 2022 be, and is hereby, CANCELLED. All pending motions (Docs. #64 , #65 , #78 ) are hereby TAKEN UNDER SUBMISSION. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/21/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/21/2022)

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  • 07/19/2022
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  • Docket(#92) ORDER: that counsel are not allowed to bring cell phones into court during this hearing. Laptops needed for presentations or note taking are permitted on the express condition that no recording or streaming of the proceedings is permitted, and the laptops may not be used to access the internet while in the courtroom. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/19/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/19/2022)

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  • 07/11/2022
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  • Docket***FILE SUBMITTED TO CHAMBERS of William O. Bertelsman for review: #91 Notice of Filing Complete List of Exhibits used in Plf's Deposition re: #90 Order (ECO) (Entered: 07/11/2022)

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  • 07/08/2022
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  • Docket(#91) NOTICE OF FILING by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company of Complete List of Exhibits Used in Plaintiff Nicholas Sandmann's Deposition (Attachments: #1 List of Exhibits)(Craig, Robert) (Entered: 07/08/2022)

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  • 07/06/2022
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  • Docket(#90) ORDER: that defendant shall file a list identifying by description the complete list of exhibits used in plaintiff's deposition on or before Friday, July 8, 2022. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 7/6/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 07/06/2022)

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  • 06/24/2022
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  • Docket(#89) ORDER: (1) The above hearing shall begin at 9:00 a.m., not 1:00 p.m.; (2) Defendants shall designate one attorney to argue the opinion versus fact issue raised in their joint motion for summary judgment. This issue will be argued first. (3) Defendants shall also designate one attorney to argue the alternative "substantial truth" issue raised in their joint motion for summary judgment and in plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. This issue will be argued second. (4) After lunch, defendants will argue the issues raised in their supplemental motions for summary judgment that are specific to their respective publications. (5) The Court will then take the motions under submission with written opinions to follow. (Parties to see Order for Details). Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 6/24/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 06/24/2022)

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  • 06/17/2022
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  • Docket(#88) ORDER: that oral argument on these motions ( #64 , #65 , #78 ) be, and is hereby, SET FOR TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2022 AT 1:00 P.M. An order setting the format for this argument will follow. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 6/17/2022.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 06/17/2022)

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  • 05/23/2022
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  • Docket(#87) NOTICE OF FILING by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company the Deposition of Nicholas Sandmann (Attachments: #1 Deposition of Nicholas Sandmann taken September 13-14, 2021)(Craig, Robert) (Entered: 05/23/2022)

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110 More Docket Entries
  • 03/20/2020
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  • Docket(#10) MOTION for Nathan E. Siegel to Appear Pro Hac Vice by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company ( Filing fee $125; receipt number 0643-4626549)Motions referred to Candace J. Smith. (Attachments: #1 Declaration of Nathan Siegel, #2 Certificate of Good Standing, #3 Proposed Order)(Craig, Robert) (Entered: 03/20/2020)

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  • 03/20/2020
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  • Docket(#9) AGREED ORDER extending the time for Defendants to move, answer, or otherwise plead in response to Plaintiff's Complaint #1 up to, and including, April 27, 2020. SO ORDERED this 20th day of March, 2020. Signed by Magistrate Judge Candace J. Smith on 3/20/2020.(ECO)cc: COR (Entered: 03/20/2020)

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  • 03/18/2020
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  • Docket(#8) FRCP 7.1 DISCLOSURE STATEMENT by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company. (Craig, Robert) (Entered: 03/18/2020)

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  • 03/18/2020
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  • Docket***MOTION SUBMITTED TO CHAMBERS of Candace J. Smith for review: re #7 Proposed Agreed Order Extending Time to Move, Answer, or Otherwise Plead in Response to Plaintiff's Complaint by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company (ECO) (Entered: 03/18/2020)

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  • 03/18/2020
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  • Docket(#7) Proposed Agreed Order Extending Time to Move, Answer, or Otherwise Plead in Response to Plaintiff's Complaint by ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company. (Craig, Robert) (Entered: 03/18/2020)

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  • 03/03/2020
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  • Docket(#5) ORDER: This matter is REASSIGNED to Hon. William O. Bertelsman of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Signed by Judge David L. Bunning on 3/3/2020.(TJZ)cc: COR (Entered: 03/03/2020)

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  • 03/02/2020
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  • Docket(#4) STANDING REFERRAL ORDER 1) Case referred to assigned U.S. Magistrate Judge at Covington to supervise discovery and pretrial proceedings; 2) Magistrate Judge is authorized to conduct all pretrial and status conferences, to hold such hearings as may be required, and to rule on nondispositive motions, except motions in limine. Dispositive motions and motions in limine will be referred by the Clerk of this court to the undersigned. The final pretrial conference and trial will also be before the undersigned, unless parties agree to a trial by a Magistrate Judge; 3) Discovery disputes shall be resolved in the following manner: (1) Parties to meet/confer in an attempt to resolve disputes; (2) If parties unable to resolve such disputes formally, they shall attempt to resolve their disagreements by telephone conference with the Magistrate Judge; 3) If parties unable to resolve their disputes after conference with the Magistrate Judge, they may file appropriate written motions with the Court, which shall include the certification required. Signed by Judge David L. Bunning on 1/13/2011. (SLG)cc: COR (Entered: 03/02/2020)

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  • 03/02/2020
  • DocketConflict Check run. (SLG) (Entered: 03/02/2020)

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  • 03/02/2020
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  • Docket(#3) Summons Issued as to ABC News Interactive, Inc., ABC News, Inc., The Walt Disney Company; Summons issued and returned to counsel electronically (Attachments: #1 Summons ABC News Interactive, Inc., #2 Summons The Walt Disney Company)(SLG) (Entered: 03/02/2020)

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  • 03/02/2020
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  • Docket(#1) COMPLAINT (Filing fee $400; receipt number 0643-4609162),filed by Nicholas Sandmann.(Attachments: #1 Civil Cover Sheet, #2 Exhibit A-Fox40 Statement, #3 Exhibit B-WaPo Editor's Note, #4 Exhibit C-Nicholas' January 20 Statement, #5 Exhibit D-Diocese of Covington Letter January 25, #6 Exhibit E-GCI Report, #7 Exhibit F-Diocese of Covington Letter February 11, #8 Exhibit G-ABC's First Online Article, #9 Exhibit H-ABC's Second Online Article, #10 Exhibit I-ABC's Third Online Article, #11 Exhibit J-ABC's Fourth Online Article, #12 Exhibit K-Retraction Demand, #13 Summons ABC News, Inc., #14 Summons ABC News Interactive, Inc., #15 Summons The Walt Disney Company)(SLG) Modified on 3/2/2020 (SLG). Modified on 3/2/2020 (SLG). (Entered: 03/02/2020)

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