Jury in 'Unite the Right' Charlottesville trial award more than $25 million in damages to victims

Nine people who were injured in the 2017 rally sued 24 defendants.

Published: November 23, 2021 3:26pm

Updated: November 23, 2021 5:31pm

A jury reached a partial verdict regarding nine people who were injured during the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., awarding them more than $25 million in damages.

The jury was faced with finding that the two dozen defendants, including Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the rally, and white nationalist Richard Spencer, had entered into a conspiracy to commit violence, NBC News reported. But they were unable to, as they couldn't agree on the first two claims -- a federal "conspiracy to interfere with civil rights" and "action for neglect to prevent."

This was the first major case in years that was tried under the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act, a federal law that has been rarely used since being codified after the Civil War. The purpose of the law was to allow private citizens to sue each other for civil rights violations, according to The Associated Press.

The Charlottesville plaintiffs described the bloodshed, broken bones, and emotional trauma experienced from the "Unite the Right" rally, NBC News reported. The 11-member jury heard four weeks of testimony prior to their more than three days of deliberation.

A range of punitive damages on the other claims were agreed to by the jury, including assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, which was what resulted in the over $25 million in awards.

One of the 24 defendants, James Alex Fields Jr., is serving life in prison for murder and hate crimes after driving a car into a crowd of counterprotesters during the rally, killing one and injuring dozens, according to the AP.

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