A federal jury in the Charlottesville, VA, civil case of Sines v Kessler could not reach a verdict on claims one and two in the Unite the Right civil trial, but did on count three, as well as the more specific charges related to James Fields directly.
While the verdict assessed damages against the defendants, the fact that plaintiffs spent four years and reportedly $25 million and could not secure liable verdicts on the two banner charges was a victory, especially given how heavily U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon put his thumb on the scale for plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs asked for between $3-5 million in actual damages per plaintiff another $7-10 million per plaintiff – they got far less.
Claim one was the most prominent claim by the Jewish activist group Integrity First for America against the defendants in the lawsuit because it pertained to whether the defendants conspired to commit racially motivated violence. The jury could not come to an agreement.
The jury could also not reach a verdict on claim two, which pertained to whether the defendants had knowledge of a conspiracy for racially motivated violence and failed to prevent it.
The jury in Unite the Right trial found all of defendants violated Virginia state conspiracy laws.
The jury awarded symbolic $1 or $0 awards to plaintiffs on damages for counts one through three, and $500,000 awards against defendants Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, Nathan Damigo, Eli Kline, Matthew Heimbach, Matthew Parrot, Dr. Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs, as well as $1 million damages against TWP, the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard America, League of the South, and Identity Evropa on counts one through three.
On the fourth count, religious or ethnic intimidation, the jury assessed damages of $200,000 against Kessler, Spencer, Kline, Robert Ray and Cantwell.
In the charges related to Fields, the jury awarded $6 million total in damages and $6 million in punitive damages. That wasn’t a misprint.
Several defendants have already announced their intention of appealing the decision.
“This verdict was coerced on an indecisive jury,” said NJP Chairman Mike Peinovich. “The entire case represents an abusive perversion of the Justice system beyond what anyone ever thought possible. What an absolute disgrace.
“An aggressive appeal must now be filed based on the multiple legal errors of Judge Moon and the many irregularities of the case, one of which being the fact that Moon's own clerks are best friends with plaintiffs, and the lead plaintiff was sending monetary payments to them while the case was ongoing,” Peinovich said. “This relationship was never disclosed until it was discovered by Kessler.
At heart in this case, were the 10 plaintiffs and their attorneys who alleged that the defendants “conspired to commit racially motivated violence” at the legally permitted Unite the Right rally held in August 2017.
The 2017 lawsuit – amended in 2019 – listed two score White nationalist organizations and individuals, including the Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin, Matt Parrot, Matt Heimbach, Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, the defunct Traditional Workers Party and Identity Evropa, and at least two chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.
The linchpin of the plaintiff’s lawsuit was the claim that organizers planned the rally with the purpose of committing violence.
The independent Heaphy Report, which plaintiffs got excluded from evidence, proved this accusation to be a blatant falsehood.