On Friday, April 1, 2017, Judge David J. Hale in Louisville ruled against the dismissal of a lawsuit, stating there was ample evidence to support that the injuries of the protesters were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s words and actions. Hale wrote, “It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” and, “It was an order, an instruction, a command.” Hale wrote that the Supreme Court has ruled out some protections for free speech when used to incite violence.
Defendant Heimbach requested to dismiss the discussion in the lawsuit about his association with a white nationalist group, and also requested to dismiss discussion of statements he made about how a President Trump would advance the interests of the group. The request was declined, with the judge saying the information could be important for determining punitive damages because they add context.
Hale also declined to remove the allegation that Plaintiff Nwanguma, who is African-American, was victim to ethnic, racial and sexist slurs at the rally from the crowd. The judge stated that this context may support claims by the plaintiffs’ of incitement and negligence by Trump and the Trump campaign. The judge wrote, “While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”
The judge stated that all people have a duty to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. “In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that their harm was foreseeable and that the Trump Defendants had a duty to prevent it.” The case was referred a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, who will handle preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts.