White supremacists found liable for civil conspiracy to commit violence at 'Unite the Right' rally
Memorial flowers and notes were left at the spot where paralegal Heather Heyer was killed and others were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters. Photo from Shutterstock.
Jurors found organizers of the violent 2017 “Unite the Right” rally liable under Virginia law Tuesday for a civil conspiracy to commit violence and intimidation.
Jurors awarded more than $25 million in damages to nine plaintiffs, according to a New York Times report.
Law.com, CNN and the Washington Post also have coverage.
Although jurors awarded damages for conspiracy under Virginia law, they did not reach a verdict on allegations of a federal race-based conspiracy under the Ku Klux Klan Act. Among those liable for damages were 12 white supremacists, including Richard Spencer, a featured speaker who coined the term “alt-right;” Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally; and Christopher Cantwell, who became widely known as the “crying Nazi” after an emotional video of him was posted when a warrant was issued for his arrest in a separate case.
The nine plaintiffs had been injured during the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; seven of the plaintiffs were injured when a neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd of racism protesters, killing Charlottesville paralegal Heather Heyer, according to a press release by Integrity First for America, which supported the plaintiffs.
CNN reports that each individual defendant is liable for $500,000, while five organizations are each liable for $1 million. In addition, the car driver, James Fields, was found liable for $12 million in punitive damages, according to Law.com. He is serving a life sentence for Heyer’s death.
The 2017 lawsuit was filed by Roberta Kaplan—a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink—and Karen Dunn—a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison—with pro bono support from their law firms and Cooley, according to the Integrity First press release.
ABAJournal.com: “Driver accused of killing paralegal in Charlottesville is indicted on federal hate crimes charges”
ABAJournal.com: “Can employees like those who took part in Charlottesville rally be fired?”