The Washington Post has settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a teenager at the center of a viral video controversy involving the teen’s encounter with a Native American activist in Washington last year.
The family of Nicholas Sandmann sued the Post for $250 million along with other news outlets for defamation over their coverage of the teen who traveled to Washington in January 2019 as part of a school trip from Kentucky.
The Post admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement with the Sandmann family. Neither side disclosed the terms of the settlement, which allows both parties to avoid a potentially lengthy trial.
Sandmann celebrated the settlement on Twitter. “Thanks to my family and millions of you who have stood your ground by supporting me,” he wrote. “I still have more to do.”
The Kentucky teen was at the center of a national news story last year when his Covington Catholic High School group attended the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. A first video that went viral showed Sandmann, who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and his face-to-face encounter with Nathan Phillips, a Native American man who was attending the Indigenous Peoples March on the same day.
Philips, who was chanting and beating a drum, said the high school students blocked his path and accused them of ridiculing him.
A later video provided additional context for the encounter that included a group of men from a group called Black Hebrew Israelites who were seen taunting the students from Sandmann’s school.
The Post said Sandman’s family accused the paper of casting the episode in political terms, saying it had “targeted and bullied” the teenager to embarrass U.S. President Donald Trump.
The paper has maintained that its reporting of the incident was accurate and fair. It said it was entitled to report Phillips’ view of the encounter and said it also reported Sandmann’s account once it was available.
Last July, a federal judge in Kentucky dismissed the Sandmanns’ suit against the Post, but later reinstated the lawsuit while limiting its scope.
“We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims of the lawsuit,” said Post spokesperson Kris Coratti.
The Sandmann family has also sued several other new organizations, including CNN, which settled with the family in July. The terms of that settlement were also undisclosed. Suits are still pending against NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times and Rolling Stone.