A Cincinnati-based neo-Nazi group filed on June 10 another motion to dismiss a lawsuit that was brought against it by former Athens resident William Burke, who was severely injured at the 2017 “unite the right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Traditionalist Worker’s Party’s – which was one of many far-right hate groups present at the 2017 rally that were sued by Burke – disputed in the motion all six legal claims that Burke and his lawyer, Michael Fradin, brought against it.
The suit was filed in May of 2019 in The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, but has since been amended twice.
TWP’s June motion comes just weeks after a federal judge denied the neo-Nazi organization’s previous request to throw the case out on grounds of improper venue, arguing that Burke could not sue the organization in an Ohio federal court when the incident occurred in Virginia.
Judge Michael Watson ruled in May that TWP’s request to dismiss the case ignored critical allegations regarding the neo-Nazi organization’s Ohio residency that Burke presented in a newly amended version of the lawsuit.
TWP is a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group that “advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems.”
In the June 10 motion, TWP and its Cincinnati-based lawyer James E. Kolenich denied Burke’s allegation that the organization intentionally inflicted physical and emotional distress on him after Ohio resident Alex Fields. Jr. drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, including Burke, who were demonstrating the white nationalists’ march on Charlottesville.
The attack resulted in Burke sustaining “significant head injuries,” according to a 2017 report in The NEWS.
Burke also sustained emotional trauma after witnessing the death of Heather Hayer, who was struck by Fields’ vehicle, the lawsuit alleged.
TWP argued in the motion that the “true nature” of the alleged physical and emotional damages Burke endured are civil assault or battery claims, not a criminal ones; and are therefore no longer within the statute of limitations under Ohio law, according to court documents.
Burke alleged that TWP and other hate groups present at the rally were “negligent” and “negligent per se” in perpetrating acts of terrorism, incitement and violence which all caused Burke to suffer physical injuries, according to the lawsuit.
TWP denied those claims, arguing they’re all also no longer within the statute of limitations, according to court documents.
The neo-Nazi organization also denied Burke’s allegation that it conspired to violate his rights, as well as the rights of Jewish and black people.
TWP argued there was no evidence of a “single plan” to conspire against Burke presented in its documented communications, which is required under Ohio law to be ruled a civil conspiracy, according to the documents.
TWP also alleged that it’s a Federal Election Commission registered political party, meaning it’s legally unable to conspire with itself and its members can’t conspire with one another, the documents said.
Additionally, the group again argued the case must be thrown out based on improper venue, according to the document, despite Judge Watson denying that same claim weeks earlier.
Burke’s legal battle against TWP is just one of many efforts on his part to dismantle far-right extremist groups in court.
Burke, who now livesain Dayton, was awarded $5,000 in January from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in a judgment entry, according to a previous report in The NEWS.
Fradin has 21 days after the motion was filed to respond. Kolenich did not respond to The Athens News’ request for comment.