[guest post by Dana]
I sure didn’t expect this. The decision comes with limits, however :
After reviewing an amended complaint, Judge William Bertelsman ordered Monday that the case could enter the discovery phase and hence a portion of the lawsuit against the newspaper could continue.
Nick and his attorneys had alleged that the gist of a Washington Post article conveyed that Nick had assaulted or physically intimidated Nathan Phillips and engaged in racist conduct after the Right to Life March in Washington D.C. on Jan. 18.
Sandmann’s lawyers argue that the Washington Post incorrectly characterized the teen as the aggressor in the situation and exposed him to public ridicule.
Bertelsman said in the order that he stands by his decision that 30 of the 33 statements Sandmann’s lawyers argued were libelous were not, but that “justice requires” further review of three of the statements.
“These three statements state that (Sandmann) ‘blocked’ Nathan Phillips and ‘would not allow him to retreat,'” the order reads.
The judge’s order that discovery can continue means Sandmann’s legal team can make requests for internal Washington Post documents concerning the events like emails and communications between editors and reporters.
The Sandmann family and their lawyer count this as a huge victory:
Attorney Todd V. McMurtry, who represents the Sandmann family with attorney L. Lin Wood, called the judge’s order a “huge victory.”
“The Sandmann family and our legal team are grateful that Judge Bertelsman has allowed the case to proceed,” said Mr. McMurtry in an email. “The Court’s ruling preserves the heart of the Nicholas Sandmann’s claims. We can consider this a huge victory and look forward to initiating discovery against the Washington Post.”
As a reminder, two separate defamation lawsuits have been filed against CNN and NBCUniversal by the Sandmann’s lawyer. Both media outlets deny that they defamed Sandmann and have taken steps for dismissal.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)