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Rittenhouse hires Sandmann lawyer, plans to file 10 defamation lawsuits

Kyle Rittenhouse (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
June 03, 2022

Kyle Rittenhouse has hired Todd McMurtry, the lawyer who represented Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann in his defamation lawsuits against NBC-Universal, CNN and the Washington Post. McMurtry said this week he expects Rittenhouse will have “at least 10” defamation lawsuits against prominent figures and companies – including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg – for their comments about the exonerated teen.

“I’ve been hired to head the effort to determine whom to sue, when to sue, where to sue. We’re going to look at everything that’s been said, determine which of those comments are legally actionable and proceed from there,” McMurtry told Fox News Digital on Thursday, adding that he’s confident “that there’s probably 10 to 15 solid” cases against “large defendants.”

During the Kenosha, Wisconsin riots in August 2020, Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third as they were attacking him. He was later charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, and as well as a number of other charges. Rittenhouse was eventually acquitted of all charges on the grounds of self-defense.

McMurtry specifically noted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook as potential targets for defamation lawsuits – the social media platform listed the shooting as a “mass murder” incident, which McMurtry explained is “factually false.” The designation also caused Rittenhouse’s accounts to be removed and positive comments about the teen to be restricted.

“Let’s just use for an example what Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg said about [Rittenhouse]. They said that he was involved in a mass murder incident,” McMurtry said. “This was not a mass murder incident. It was clearly factually false.”

“To call somebody a mass murderer is seriously defamatory. And then to use the power of social media to basically … censor any views that would take opposition to that mass murderer statement is a serious effort to destroy his character,” he continued. “And it was seriously mistaken and seriously defamatory.”

McMurtry said Zuckerberg is “certainly going to be at the top of your list” of potential lawsuits “because he has an outsized voice.”

“Facebook has an outsized voice, they can do a lot of damage, as compared to somebody maybe who has a small blog with 100 subscribers. But we’re going to look at everything that we have access to and that’s been published, and decide which ones are actionable,” he added.

Like Rittenhouse, Sandmann was also condemned by the media for an incident at the 2019 March for Life in Washington, D.C. McMurtry represented Sandmann in multiple defamation lawsuits and managed to obtain settlements from NBC-Universal, CNN and the Washington Post.

McMurtry said that while he doesn’t “necessarily tie the cases together,” they are similar because both Sandmann and Rittenhouse were minors who were “were falsely wrongfully condemned by the media and social media.”

McMurtry also argued that Rittenhouse’s “job prospects are permanently diminished” as a result of prominent figures and companies allegedly defamatory remarks.

“Not to mention what they call perpetual reputational harm, which means that Kyle is never going to have an interaction with anybody where they don’t know who he is. And this is going to follow him around for the rest of his life,” McMurtry said.

“Everybody’s going to prejudge him in every new interaction that he has with everybody for the rest of his life, and that’s called perpetual reputational harm,” he added. “The social media hysteria caused all this because people can’t act reasonably and rationally in certain circumstances.”