While President Donald Trump was campaigning for a seat in the Oval Office, several violent incidents occurred at his rallies. On Friday (March 31), a judge ruled that Trump might have incited violence against protestors with his words at one of those rallies last year.
Courier-Journal reports that Judge David J. Hale of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky rejected a motion to dismiss several points of a complaint that protestors filed against Trump, his campaign and three supporters for their actions during a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
The plaintiffs—Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah—say they were assaulted by rally attendees after Trump told them to “get ’em out of here.” The suit names several defendants: Donald Trump, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., Matthew Heimbach of the White nationalist group Traditionalist Worker Party, Alvin Bamberger of the Korean War Veterans Association and an unidentified person.
Video shows the men pushing and hitting Nwanguma, who is a Black woman. The suit alleges incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness on the part of the defendants. The judge concluded that it is plausible that Trump incited the violence and that he was negligent in his actions, but that his campaign is not liable for the actions of Trump and the defendants.
The court finds sufficient factual support for this allegation in the complaint: Plaintiffs—as well as Bamberger, in his letter—describe a chaotic and violent scene in which a crowd of people turned on three individuals, and those individuals were injured as a result. In short, Plaintiffs’ incitement claim is adequately pled….
Plaintiffs’ conclusory assertions that “Heimbach, Bamberger, and Unknown Defendant were acting as agents” of the Trump defendants and that the campaign is vicariously liable for the actions of Trump and his agents are insufficient without supporting factual allegations.
Judge Hale also denied Heimbach’s request to strike portions of the complaint that detail his connection to the Traditionalist Worker Party. Hale wrote: “These paragraphs provide context for the alleged attacks on Nwanguma and the other plaintiffs by illustrating Heimbach’s antipathy toward non-Whites and persons who oppose Trump.”
He went on to retain portions of the complaint that detail the slurs lobbed at Nwanguma during the assault. “Nor does the Court find Paragraphs 40 and 41—which describe racial, ethnic and sexist slurs Nwanguma allegedly heard at the rally—to be impertinent, immaterial or scandalous, as Heimbach contends. While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”
The case now moves on to Magistrate Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl of the same court for litigation. Read the full court ruling here.