Several more defendants have been dismissed from a federal lawsuit brought by DeAndre Harris, a counter-protester who was injured at the 2017 Unite the Right rally, after a judge ruled that the facts alleged were not sufficient.
Following an Oct. 1 order from Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon, defendants Jeff Schoep -- the former head of the National Socialist Movement -- Matt Parrott and the Traditionalist Workers Party were dismissed from the lawsuit. The trio of defendants are the second notable dismissal, following the 2020 dismissal of defendants League of the South, Michael Hill and Michael Tubbs.
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.
Schoep, the former head of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, and Parrott of the TWP, are also named as defendants in the similar Sines v. Kessler lawsuit, which also argues the defendants came to Charlottesville in 2017 with the intent of causing racist violence.
As in the case of the 2020 dismissals, Moon wrote that Harris’ complaint did not adequately establish facts or arguments that the movant defendants engaged in a racially motivated conspiracy.
While some facts are alleged for Schoep, Parrott and TWP, Moon wrote they do not meet the standard needed to withstand dismissal.
“As this Court held in its earlier opinion dismissing the claims against League of the South defendants, so too here does the court conclude that this complaint has failed to include enough factual allegations against these movant-defendants, taken as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,” Moon wrote. “Indeed, as this court wrote there with respect to those defendants, ‘[n]otably absent are any factual allegations that any of the
Movant-Defendants ‘entered into an agreement with a specific co-conspirator to engage in racially motivated violence at the August 11th and 12th events.’”
Moon also denied a request from Harris to file an amended complaint which, presumably, would have addressed some of the insufficient claims that led Moon to dismiss several of the defendants.
Per Moon’s order, the motion to amend the lawsuit came “far beyond” the 45-day period granted by court in March 2020 and Harris’ argument that leave to amend is warranted because he “has obtained additional counsel to assist in litigating” is unpersuasive.
Additionally, Moon wrote that no counsel has entered additional appearances on Harris’ behalf along with or in the time the motion was filed and no proposed amended complaint has been filed either.
“At bottom, [Harris] has not supported his request for amendment with tangible action or explanation for the need for such request, without which, the court cannot conclude that good cause has been established,” Moon wrote.
Despite these six dismissals, various high-profile defendants remain parties in the case, and no other defendants have filed motions to dismiss, apart from Identity Evropa, Inc., which was dismissed briefly after the neo-Nazi group was improperly served the lawsuit.
Though other defendants have not yet filed motions to dismiss, Moon has in previous orders 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.