Liberty University Sues The New York Times for $10 Million Over Stories About Coronavirus on Campus
Liberty University is suing The New York Times for $10 million over a series of news stories published earlier this year about the evangelical Christian school’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a lawsuit filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court on Wednesday, the Virginia-based academic institution also named New York Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson and photographer Julia Rendleman as defendants.
At issue is a series of stories centered on Liberty’s decision to reopen their Lynchburg campus amid the spread of the coronavirus, which some feared would increase infections.
The complaint laid out three counts of defamation regarding news articles written about Liberty’s decision, arguing that the stories wrongly blamed the school for spreading COVID-19.
“Defendants’ defamatory statements about Liberty caused enormous harm to Liberty’s business and reputation for which damages are presumed,” the lawsuit reads.
“The foregoing statements, individually and collectively, give rise to the false and defamatory impression that Liberty recklessly caused a COVID-19 outbreak and got students sick by disregarding state health directives and encouraging students to return to the Liberty’s campus after spring break.”
Liberty also accused the defendants of civil trespassing. The lawsuit noted that as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Liberty had closed off their campus to outsiders at the time.