A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of inciting violence against protesters at a presidential campaign rally last year can move forward, denying a free speech argument against the suit.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge David Hale in Louisville, Kentucky, opens the way for the lawsuit brought by three protesters to proceed through the legal system. The suit is against Trump, his campaign and three of his supporters.
Plaintiffs Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah say they were battered by Trump supporters at a March 2016 rally in Louisville as Trump repeatedly said “Get ‘em out.”
Trump’s lawyers argued a free speech defense against the lawsuit, and said Trump did not intend for his supporters to use force.
Hale wrote in an opinion and order that “it is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force. … It was an order, an instruction, a command.”
Two attackers named
The attackers named in the lawsuit include Matthew Heimbach, a member of a white supremacist group, and Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association in Ohio. A third defendant has yet to identified.
Hale said the removal of Nwanguma, an African American woman, was “particularly reckless.” The judge did not remove allegations that Nwanguma was the victim of racial, ethnic and sexist slurs from the rally crowd.
Hale wrote, “While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”
Video of Heimbach and Bamberger pushing Nwanguma down an aisle as Trump said “Get ‘em out” went viral.
Risk argument countered
Trump’s lawyers argued that the protesters assumed risk of injury when they decided to attend the rally and the defendants cannot be held liable.
The judge, however, countered that under the law, every person has a duty to every other person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury.