A Colorado man who marched to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and then sued 9News’ Kyle Clark for defamation over subsequent news coverage settled the lawsuit days before the case will be argued before the Colorado Court of Appeals, according to court records.
Chad Burmeister, a Colorado businessman, traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, and posted publicly on his Facebook page about participating in the march to the U.S. Capitol building, according to court filings.
The posts included a photo of himself and another protester captioned, “First guy to storm the capital (sic) today,” which he later edited to read, “Peaceful march to the capital (sic).”
The next day, Clark featured the Littleton man on his 9News newscast, using Burmeister’s own social media posts to cast doubt on a state lawmaker’s claim that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was not carried out by Trump supporters. The segment included comments from Burmeister that he did not go inside the building and did not believe he broke any laws.
Burmeister sued in November 2021 over the short segment, alleging that Clark’s coverage falsely painted him as someone who participated in violence or vandalism during the march to the Capitol. Burmeister said he never went inside the building and was not violent during the event. In his lawsuit, he said he suffered damage to his reputation and his business, ScaleX.ai, because of the 9News segment.
Attorney Steve Zansberg, who represented Clark and Tegna, 9News’ parent company, argued that the damage to Burmeister’s reputation was done by his own social media posts, and that the news segment was accurate, not defamatory.
A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that Burmeister had not met the burden of proof to bring the claims, but he appealed. The case is scheduled to go before the Colorado Court of Appeals for oral argument on Tuesday, and the two sides will go ahead with the argument even though the case was settled April 13, said Jon Sarché, spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Department.
“They have not filed to dismiss the appeal, and they’ve agreed to conduct oral arguments tomorrow despite having reached a settlement,” he said in an email Monday. The argument will be held at Pueblo Community College as part of the judicial department’s “Courts in the Community” program.
The amount and terms of the settlement were not clear. Burmeister’s attorney, Dan Ernst, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.
Zansberg declined to discuss the settlement terms but said in a statement that he was pleased to see the case dropped.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this frivolous defamation lawsuit and the plaintiff’s decision to drop his appeal and pay court-awarded attorney’s fees,” Zansberg said in an email.
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