Once in a generation, there is a trial that fundamentally changes our nation. We're taking on the leadership of the violent white nationalist movement – sending a clear message that violent hate has no place in our country.
In August 2017, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis invaded Charlottesville, Virginia. This was not a peaceful protest but, rather, a meticulously planned conspiracy to bring violence to Charlottesville -- the result of months of online organizing, fueled by racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of hate.
On August 11th, they marched with torches and surrounded a group of students and community members on the University of Virginia campus. White supremacists pushed, punched, and threw lighted torches. They chanted "Jews will not replace us," "blood and soil," and "this is our town now." Religious leaders at a nearby church sheltered in place fearing that they would be next.
On August 12th, these white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched military-style to Emancipation Park, shouting racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic slurs and carrying swastikas and other Nazi symbols. They charged through a line of interfaith clergy. They attacked and assaulted countless citizens. After police dispersed them, James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Shortly after the violence, members of the community filed a landmark lawsuit against the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and hate groups responsible. In fall of 2021, the case went to trial, resulting in a historic victory in which every defendant was found liable.
IFA's suit sent a message to every hate group in the country: Americans will not give in to violence and hate. We will defend the dignity and equality of all people. And we will ensure this never happens again.
On November 23, 2021, IFA's plaintiffs won their historic lawsuit -- with the jury holding every defendant liable for entering into an unlawful conspiracy to commit violence and intimidation, in addition to other claims, and awarding multi-million-dollar damages.
On October 25th, the Sines v. Kessler trial began in federal court in Charlottesville, Virginia. Information on how to follow the trial can be found here.
A federal judge granted plaintiffs’ motion for entry of default against defendant Nationalist Front, which was an umbrella organization for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.
The court granted evidentiary sanctions establishing key facts against Robert "Azzmador" Ray, including that he engaged in an agreement with co-conspirators to committ racially motivated violence in Charlottesville.
In response to a motion from our plaintiffs, the court granted evidentiary sanctions, known as adverse inferences, against the National Socialist Movement for concealing/destroying evidence.
The court denied a motion by the defendants' to move the trial out of Charlottesville.
The Court denied a late motion for summary judgement by defendant Richard Spencer. He will face trial alongside his co-defendants.
The court denied a motion filed by a number of defendants to exclude certain expert testimony related to white supremacist tactics and the broader movement, finding that the testimony “will be relevant and helpful to a jury in this case.”
The court denied a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants League of the South and its leaders Michael Hill and Michael Tubbs. They will now face trial alongside their co-defendants.
Plaintiffs detailed how defendant Vanguard America and its leaders withheld and failed to preserve material evidence in our suit. Vanguard America was previously sanctioned over $16,000 for disobeying court orders.
The court granted plaintiffs’ request for a permissive adverse inference instruction against Ray, finding that “plaintiffs produced clear and convincing evidence that Ray intentionally withheld requested discovery knowing that it was relevant to an issue in the case.” This is the second time plaintiffs have won adverse inferences against the defendants.
The jury will be instructed to treat as established fact that Kline entered into an agreement with co-conspirators to commit racially-motivated violence in Charlottesville, among other facts.
After flagrantly violating court orders and failing to appear for three depositions, Robert "Azzmador" Ray was found by a federal judge to be in contempt of court, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
A federal court fully granted plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery from neo-Nazi hate group National Socialist Movement. The court ordered NSM Commander Burt Colucci to identify and turn over all relevant social media accounts and electronic devices.
A federal court ordered neo-Nazi Jeff Schoep to immediately turn over previously undisclosed phone, social media accounts, and other evidence — and also pay fees. Court warns he may face additional sanctions and contempt of court.
In a significant win for Charlottesville plaintiffs, a federal court ordered defendants Matthew Heimbach, Elliott Kline, and Vanguard America to pay $41,300 in financial sanctions. The court left the door open to even harsher sanctions if they fail to comply.
A federal court fully granted plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery and ordered neo-Nazi Robert “Azzmador” Ray to turn over all relevant social media accounts and electronic devices.
Neo-Nazi defendant Elliott Kline (aka Eli Mosley) surrendered himself to the custody of the U.S. Marshals office for jail.
The federal court granted plaintiffs' motion to add Thomas Baker as a plaintiff in the suit. Click here to read the amended complaint.
The court sanctioned defendants Kline, Heimbach, and Vanguard America, requiring them to pay plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and leaving the door open to even harsher penalties.
The court requires defendant Schoep to turn over critical evidence.
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Sanctions against Defendant Vanguard America.
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Sanctions against Defendants Elliott Klein (a/k/a Eli Mosley) and Matthew Heimbach, citing Defendants' failure to comply with court orders.
Judge Norman K. Moon denied a motion to block Twitter, GoDaddy.com, Cloudfare, and Hatreon from complying with plaintiff's subpoenas, which seek evidence related to the defendants coordination and planning of racially-motivated violence.
A California bankruptcy court ruled that defendant Nathan Damigo cannot avoid liability under Sines v. Kessler, despite his bankrupty claims.
In an important victory for Plaintiffs, the court compelled Defendants to hand over devices and social media accounts to be imaged, a critical step in the discovery process.
In a "huge victory" for Plaintiffs, the federal district court issued a 62-page decision rejecting Defendants' motions to dismiss.
The federal district court in Charlottesville heard oral arguments on Defendants' motions to dismiss the case.
A federal court in Louisiana ordered former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, a non-party, to produce documents in response to Plaintiffs' subpoena.
Plaintiffs obtained entries of default against five defendants, including neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin and the East Coast Knights of the KKK.
Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, including two new named plaintiffs who were injured by Defendant James Alex Fields.
Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against white supremacists and hate groups for conspiring and causing violence in Charlottesville. The complaint alleged violations of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act and various state laws.
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The Charlottesville Case: Plaintiffs
Our plaintiffs are members of the Charlottesville community. They include parents, students, a Christian minister, and others who peacefully protested when white supremacists invaded their hometown. They were specifically targeted on the basis of their race, religion, and ethnicity or because they stood up for the safety and civil rights of others.
The plaintiffs were injured by the defendants, including a number who were grievously injured when James Alex Fields, Jr., drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters. As stated in the complaint, our plaintiffs hope "to ensure that nothing like this will happen again at the hands of Defendants—not on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, and not anywhere else in the United States of America."
Defendants are two dozen prominent white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and hate groups that planned, promoted, and executed the violent acts in Charlottesville. They came with clubs and shields, pistols and assault rifles, helmets and pepper spray. Defendants killed one woman and injured dozens more. They did not come to protest peacefully. They came with a plan to provoke violence.
Defendants include Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who led the organizing efforts; Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who believes in "ethnic cleansing"; Matthew Heimbach, a white nationalist who said, "Of course we look up to men like Adolf Hitler"; and James Alex Fields Jr., who drove the car that killed Heather Heyer; as well as hate groups like the Traditionalist Worker Party, Identity Evropa, and the League of the South.
IFA is providing financial support for the plaintiffs in this historic case, funding critical expenses such as evidence collection and security. The plaintiffs are represented by a team of lawyer from nationally-recognized law firms, led by Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn.
Robbie is the founding partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. Among other accolades, Robbie has been selected as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” in the United States, as “Litigator of the Year,” as “Lawyer of the Year,” and as the “Most Innovative Lawyer of The Year.” In 2013, her landmark victory in United States v. Windsor brought down the Defense of Marriage Act, landing the first major legal victory in the battle for marriage equality. Robbie is an adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School.
Karen L. Dunn is one of the nation’s top trial lawyers, widely recognized for securing courtroom victories in difficult cases. Karen is also highly skilled at crisis management, advising political figures, C-suite executives and boards of directors as they navigate reputation-threatening investigations, congressional inquiries and media scrutiny—often all at the same time. She was recently named a “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer for her role in “high-stakes, high-profile and hard-fought” cases.
Karen is ranked in Band 1 by Chambers and Partners in General Commercial Litigation and in the “Spotlight Table” for Crisis Management. Chambers reports that Karen’s clients call her “one of the best lawyers on the planet,” “a passionate advocate” with “a great ability to think on her feet.” Karen has been named a “Litigator of the Week” five times by The American Lawyer; one of the National Law Journal’s “Outstanding Women Lawyers”; a Law 360 “Trials MVP”; one of Benchmark Litigation’s “Top-10 Women in Litigation” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers”; and one of Elle Magazine’s “Most Compelling Women in Washington Now.”
Prior to entering private practice, Karen served in all three branches of government, including as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia; Associate White House Counsel under President Barack Obama; and Senior Advisor and Communications Director to former Sen. Hillary Clinton. Earlier, she served as a law clerk to Judge Merrick B. Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court.