Several defendants have been dismissed from a federal lawsuit brought by DeAndre Harris, a counter-protester who was beaten at the 2017 Unite the Right rally, after counsel for Harris declined to file an amended complaint addressing insufficient allegations.
On Nov. 30, Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon temporarily dismissed several defendants from the complaint, writing that the facts alleged were insufficient to indicate there was a conspiracy to violate Harris’ civil rights. Harris was granted leave to amend his complaint within 21 days in an effort to allow his counsel to file an amended lawsuit that includes sufficient factual allegations against the defendants.
However, per a Dec. 28 order, no amended complaint was filed and Moon subsequently dismissed with prejudice defendants League of the South, Michael Hill and Michael Tubbs from the lawsuit.
Additionally, defendants Matthew Parrott, the Traditionalist Workers Party and Jeff Schoep were denied motions to dismiss on Dec. 3 due to an assumption that an amended complaint would be filed, Moon wrote in a separate Dec. 28 order.
However, because no amended complaint was filed in time, Moon directed the three parties to either refile their previous motions to dismiss or to file a new motion to dismiss by Jan. 11.
Filed in August 2019 in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Harris’ lawsuit names nearly three dozen defendants, including lead rally organizer Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Harris’ six attackers and various white supremacist individuals and organizations.
The suit alleges that the defendants — specifically Kessler and Spencer — created a conspiracy to deny Black and Jewish people equal protection under the law, leading to the physical assault on Harris.
After languishing for months, in January the League of the South, Hill and Tubbs became the first defendants to file a response.
Hill, a founding member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, and Tubbs, a Florida-based leader, jointly filed a motion with the League to be dismissed from the complaint. The defendants claim that no factual allegations within the complaint point to actions they did to encourage violence.
In Moon’s November dismissal, he compared the lawsuit to Sines v. Kessler, but contrasted the facts alleged. Unlike in the Sines case, which he said presented a robust set of facts to back up allegations of a racist conspiracy, Moon wrote that Harris’ complaint lacked any factual allegations that the League of the South, Hill and Tubbs “entered into an agreement with a specific co-conspirator to engage in racially motivated violence at the August 11th and 12th events.”
Moon’s November dismissal also addressed issues with the complaint’s allegations against Harris’ attackers, none of whom have been dismissed from the case yet.
The complaint details the assault Harris suffered in the Market Street Garage, a video of which has been viewed millions of times. Six men were involved in the attack, and four — Daniel Borden, Tyler Davis, Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos — have since been convicted of malicious wounding charges.
Goodwin and Ramos tried unsuccessfully to appeal their convictions and are currently serving eight- and six-year prison sentences, respectively. Borden and Davis accepted plea agreements, and thus cannot appeal their convictions.
Two men remain unidentified and are still being sought by the Charlottesville Police Department.
No hearings are currently scheduled for Harris’ lawsuit.