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$3M lawsuit filed against Kessler, Fields and others after fatal crash
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$3M lawsuit filed against Kessler, Fields and others after fatal crash

From the August 12 series
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Lawsuit filed in Charlottesville circuit court Tuesday.

Two sisters involved in the car attack that killed Heather Heyer on Saturday filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, James Alex Fields Jr., Richard Spencer and 30 other groups and individuals.

Tadrint and Micah Washington, the plaintiffs who were in a car that was hit during the attack Saturday, are seeking $3 million in damages.

The sisters — who said they did not take part in any protesting that day — were on their way home when they found themselves being detoured down 4th Street SE. They stopped at the intersection of 4th Street SE and East Water Street to let a large group of protesters cross the street, according to the lawsuit.

Police have said they planned to keep 4th Street closed to traffic until 7 p.m., according to a traffic plan released prior to Saturday’s rally. But when asked why there were three cars on the road before the attack, police said they have not completed the investigation.

At a news conference on Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said he was unsure whether authorities had officially opened the crossing to traffic. He added that he was certain the action plan called for it to be closed.

At about 1:42 p.m., a grey Dodge Challenger turned down 4th Street and accelerated into the group of pedestrians — killing 32-year-old Heyer and injuring 19 others. When the Challenger, allegedly driven by Fields, crashed into the sisters’ vehicle, the two were slammed into the dashboard and windshield, leaving them with serious injuries, the lawsuit alleged.

Shortly after the attack, Fields was arrested and charged with second degree murder, malicious wounding and failing to stop at an accident.

Along with Kessler, Fields and Spencer, the lawsuit names as defendants Mike Peinovich (who runs a right-wing podcast), Michael Hill (founder of the neo-confederate League of the South and a leader of the Nationalist Front) and Matthew Heimbach (a leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party and the Nationalist Front), the Traditionalist Worker Party, the League of the South Party, Vanguard America, the National Socialist Movement, the Nationalist Front, the National Policy Institute, and the Proud Boys.

The suit also names David Duke (former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan), the Council of Conservative Citizens,, Augustus Invictus (founder of the military wing of the Proud Boys), Pax Dickinson, Christopher Cantwell, Andrew Anglin (founder of the Daily Stormer), the Daily Stormer, Identity Dixie, Identity Evropa, Nathan Damigo, the Red Elephants, the American Resistance, the American Freedom Keepers and the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia.

The suit also includes John Doe 1-1,000 and Jane Doe 1-1,000 to represent other people from the rally that have not yet been identified.

Timothy Litzenburg, of the Miller Firm, LLC in Orange, took on the case because he said the Saturday’s events in Charlottesville were as frightening as 1930s Germany. Calling the car attack an act of domestic terror, he said he wanted to represent the Washington sisters who experienced the violence first hand.

“We’re fighting fascism,” Litzenburg said.

For the John Does mentioned in the suit, Litzenburg said the firm intends to add people and organizations as they are identified in photos and videos.

“It leaves us room in the lawsuit as we learn more about who was there,” said Litzenburg.

Count 1 in the suit alleges Fields intentionally assaulted the Washington sisters when he rammed his vehicle into theirs, as the car barreled through the crowd of pedestrians.

According to the document, the plaintiffs were “severely injured and suffered great physical, mental and emotional pain and injury and required and received medical care and treatment and incurred medical expenses.”

Count 2 (against all of the defendants) alleges a civil conspiracy in which the defendants unlawfully and willingly participated in the “incitement, promotion and sponsoring of violent acts and terrorism for the purpose of instilling fear in the public” and stopping the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, according to the document.

Count 3 alleges negligence on the parts of all the defendants in that all of them aided Fields in an act of terrorism when he reportedly mowed down the group of pedestrians. Count 4 alleges that all the defendants incited rioting and disorderly conduct that would “result in the use of force against residents of Charlottesville and counter-protesters,” the document states.

Count 5 accuses all of the defendants of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the plaintiffs. Count 6 accuses the defendants of aiding the assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress that Fields allegedly inflicted on the plaintiffs after the car attack.

Count 7 alleges that Fields was negligent while operating his vehicle when it reportedly hit the Washingtons’ vehicle. The lawsuit said Fields failed to maintain a proper lookout, failed to maintain proper control of the vehicle and operated it in a careless and reckless manner.

Count 8 alleges that Kessler was negligent by failing to take appropriate measures to makes sure there would be no violent at the Unite the Right event. Instead, the lawsuit alleges Kessler “witnessed, encouraged and participated in violence against counter-protesters,” according to the document.

When reached, Kessler said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

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