The National Policy Institute, an organization run by white supremacist Richard Spencer, is in default and several defendants have been dismissed from a federal lawsuit stemming from the deadly Unite the Right.
The suit was filed on behalf of William Burke in May 2019 in the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court, where it has slowly moved along ever since. Burke was among the dozens of people injured in Charlottesville when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd. Fields has since been convicted of murdering Heather Heyer and of committing federal hate crimes.
Burke, who attended the rally to protest against racism, testified at both Fields’ state and federal sentencing hearings and shared about the physical, emotional and mental toll the rally and car attack took on him.
Burke’s lawsuit alleges that though the rally was ostensibly about a Charlottesville City Council vote to remove a downtown statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the rally also was intended to explicitly send a message of white supremacy.
According to recent filings, the National Policy Institute, which has described itself as “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States,” is in default after failing to plead responses to Burke’s complaint in a timely manner, which means the court can proceed to offer a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.
It is unclear what impact this will have on the National Policy Institute or lawsuit, as no judgments against any defendants have been entered yet.
Last month, the court requested that Burke’s counsel show that he had served the second-amended complaint to defendants Andrew Anglin, Gregory Anglin, Daily Stormer, Moonbase Holdings, LLC, Anglin and Anglin, LLC and Morning Star Ministries.
In an April 30 filing, Burke’s counsel responded that he “has been unable to locate or serve [the above named defendants] and acknowledges that the Court may dismiss those Defendants without prejudice.”
Consequently, the court wrote that it will dismiss the defendants without prejudice, meaning they may be able to be brought back to court later under the same or a similar claims from the plaintiff.
Various other defendants were also dismissed, including: James Alex Fields Jr.; Jason Kessler; Vanguard America; Robert Ray; Mathew Heimbach; Proud Boys; Richard Spencer; National Front; Augustus Sol Invictus; Honorable Sacred Knights and 2,000 unnamed individuals.
In January, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke agreed to pay $5,000 to Burke after a judgment was entered against him. Fradin, Burke’s attorney, claimed the settlement as a win for his client, though Duke also claimed the settlement as a victory.
With the National Policy Institute in default and most of the other defendants set to be dismissed, the Traditionalist Workers Party is the only remaining defendant.
The neo-Nazi group has repeatedly argued that the Ohio court is the wrong venue, in part because the rally occurred in Virginia. Burke’s counsel has rebutted these claims and argued the need for an penitentiary hearing. No hearings are currently set for the case.