Eight Covington Catholic High School students hit a dozen politicians and media figures with a lawsuit Thursday, claiming they were publicly defamed amid the controversy that surrounded the students' trip to Washington, D.C., in January.
The lawsuit, filed in Kenton County Circuit Court, targets:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
- Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.)
- New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman
- CNN commentator Ana Navaro
- Kathy Griffin
- ABC News' Matthew Dowd
- Reza Aslan
- Kentucky businessman Adam Edelen
- Princeton University professor Kevin Kruse
- Activist Shaun King
- Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery
- Rewire.News editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson
According to Law&Crime, the lawsuit states:
Several of our Senators, most-famous celebrities, and widely read journalists, collectively used their large social media platforms, perceived higher credibility and public followings to lie and libel minors they never met, based on an event they never witnessed.
These defendants called for the kids to be named and shamed, doxxed and expelled, and invited public retaliation against these minors from a small town in Kentucky.The defendants circulated false statements about them to millions of people around the world. The video of the entire event, known to the defendants, exposed all of their factual claims against the kids as lies.
The defendants were each individually offered the opportunity to correct, delete, and/or apologize for their false statements, but each refused, continuing to circulate the false statements about these children to this very day on their social media platforms they personally control.
The students' names are not listed in the lawsuit. They are instead listed as John Doe plaintiffs.
Nick Sandmann, who has filed separate lawsuits against CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post — which was dismissed by a federal judge last month — is not part of this lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks at least $15,000 and at most $50,000 in damages for each student, for a total ranging between $1.44 million and $4.8 million.
Attorney Robert Barnes, who is representing the students alongside attorney Kevin Murphy, told Law&Crime that "prominent politicians, press and public personalities used their big social media platforms to form a digital lynch mob against a bunch of kids they never knew from an event they didn't witness."
The suit says each defendant was given the opportunity to correct, delete, or apologize for their defamatory statements, but all refused to do so.