Shipwreckedcrew offers his view--Implications of Nick Sandmann’s Settlement With The Washington Post — Money to Fight With:
There has been some rank speculation among some media personalities and reporters that the settlements were only for “nuisance” value. No settlement terms were announced as both sides agreed to confidentiality clauses.
But even a “nuisance” value settlement in a case like this would be substantial. “Nuisance value” is the value that an insurance company puts on a case that relates to the cost to defend the case through trial, even if they expect to prevail. Attorneys fees and costs even for a successful suit like this would be well into six figures. A “nuisance value” offer is an offer made by the insurance company to pay a similar amount to the Plaintiff in order to make the lawsuit disappear. The insurance company spends the same amount either way, and by settling the case they eliminate the risk of an adverse outcome, no matter how small a chance they think there is of such a result.
So, even if you were to accept that Sandmann’s attorney’s have recommended that he accept “nuisance value” settlements with CNN and the Washington Post — which I do not believe to be the case — the purpose for doing so is other than what is being speculated. Sandmann’s attorneys clearly believe one or more of the remaining defendants is the most at-risk for a verdict in Sandmann’s favor from a federal jury in Kentucky. What they are doing with these early settlements is building a war chest to take on those large media companies.
Early settlements are the cheapest ones. The attorneys/insurers for CNN and the Washington Post gave wise advice to cut a deal and get out of the case. I expect Rolling Stone and Gannett to get out in similar fashion, too.
That will leave Sandmann with ABC-Disney, CBS-Viacom, and NBC-Universal. All are multi-media platforms and all had extended coverage across the platforms of the Sandmann-Phillips encounter.
I’m certain that some of the settlement funds have been put away for the personal benefit of Nicholas Sandman as he moves into adulthood.
But, more than that, CNN and the Washington Post just paid for the litigation expenses of Sandmann and his attorneys to drag ABC/NBC/CBS through a trial on the merits of Sandmann’s claim.
Some members of the Supreme Court have expressed skepticism of the press-friendly jurisprudence of the Court beginning with Sullivan v. New York Times. Justice Thomas has said the decision is untethered to any constitutional provision at all — Justice Brennan simply invented the standards when he wrote the opinion.
Nicholas Sandmann may be the high school boy from Kentucky who helps re-write that law. The only way to do so is to take the major media to a trial and make them defend their reporting.