Prepare for viral nonsense about a lawsuit: "TRUMP RALLY GOER SUES TRUMP FOR INCITING HIM TO VIOLENCE!!!!"
Except it's 90% nonsense.
Donald Trump supporter Alvin Bamberger is accused of assaulting a protester at a 2016 campaign rally in Kentucky.
But if the 75-year-old veteran lost his cool at the Louisville rally, he did so at the "urging and inspiration" of his President, Bamberger alleges in a lawsuit against Trump.
"Trump and/or the Trump campaign urged and inspired Bamberger to act as he did," according to the Ohio resident's claim, which was filed in Louisville federal court on Friday.
\Bamberger's lawsuit is the latest against Trump — no stranger to legal claims — in connection with the raucous March 2016 rally.
So what's really going on? It's mundane legal maneuvering.
Earlier this month I wrote about lousy legal journalism leading to bogus headlines suggesting that a federal judge had ruled that Donald Trump incited violence at a rally. In fact, I explained, the judge had made a very typical ruling that the complaint, if its factual assertions were accepted as true, asserted a valid legal claim and could move forward to see if the plaintiffs could prove it.
This new issue arises from the same case. Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau sued people including Trump supporter Alvin Bamberger and Trump himself over an incident at a March 1, 2016 rally. The plaintiffs, protesters at the rally, claimed that Trump incited the crowd to attack them and that Bamberger and others did so.
Last Friday Bamberger answered the complaint and made a cross-claim against Trump. Bamberger's entire cross-claim against Trump was about one page long. It simply asserted that if Bamberger is found liable on the complaint for the assault, Trump should be responsible for the damages because Trump repeatedly urged rally-goers like Bamberger to remove protesters, and once offered to pay legal fees of anyone who did so, and Bamberger only acted in response to Trump's urging. "If Bamberger is adjudged liable to Ngwanguma for his actions, Trump and/or the Trump Campaign should be adjudged liable to Bamberger in an equal sum, because Trump and/or the Trump Campaign urged and inspired Bamberger to act as he did." You can read Bamberger's answer and cross-claim here.
Viewed this way, Bamberger's cross-claim is utterly mundane — a legal way of saying "it's not my fault, it's my codefendant's fault, and he should pay." It's extremely misleading to portray it as if Bamberger independently sued Trump for damages for Trump. He's not asking Trump to pay him, he's asking Trump to pay if and only if Bamberger gets hit with a judgment. He's not even asking Trump to pay his attorney fees, which would have been a more aggressive (but probably not legally supportable) argument. But you wouldn't know any of that by reading the coverage.
Do better, CNN.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017