White supremacists who orchestrated the deadly 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have been ordered to pay a massive $4.9 million in legal costs for a lawsuit that already won millions of dollars in damages for hate-fueled injuries and trauma suffered at the gathering, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
It's a devastating blow against the neo-Nazis, whose resources have already been decimated in their fight against the local residents and counter protesters who sued. Plaintiffs had sought nearly $13 million in legal fees.
Counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when Ohio extremist James Alex Fields deliberately drove his vehicle in a crowd demonstrating against the rally. Then-president Donald Trump notoriously insisted that there were "good people" on both sides that day. Some of the plaintiffs in the suit suffered serious injuries in the attack. Fields is serving life in prison, and is named in the lawsuit.
In his decision Tuesday on the legal costs, Magistrate Joel Hoppe of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, referred to the "torch march, overtly racist and antisemitic chants, and violent clashes" of the rally, as well as the "planning and coordination that enabled the conflagration."
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A jury awarded the nine plaintiffs $26 million in damages last year, but it was later shaved to $2.35 million by a judge who cited a state law capping awards at $350,000.
The case against the white supremacists was funded by donations and the nonprofit organization Integrity First for America, which was established to litigate the case.
“The impact of this case will be felt for years to come — not just on the defendants who continue to face major financial, operational, and legal consequences for their actions, but also in the broader fight against extremism as it serves as a model for accountability," Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First, told the JTA in a statement.
One of the defendants in the lawsuit is right-wing extremist Richard Spencer, who spoke at a conference in D.C. after Trump's victory, and led his audience into a stiff-armed Hitler salute as they chanted "Hail Trump."