WVTM 13 Birmingham reports that a lawsuit was filed in the US District Courts of Alabama on October 17, 2016, stemming from violence in November at a campaign rally. Richard Rice, attorney for Marcurio Southall and Carlos Chaverst Jr., filed suit against the Donald Trump campaign and the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Southall and Chaverst claimed they were victims of assault in response to their protesting. Mr. Rice stated, “it is not OK to use violence as a means to suppress political discourse.”
The violence originated as Mr. Chavest held up his mobile phone to record the event when someone slapped the phone from his hands. Mr. Southall, a former police academy cadet and security guard, approached attempting to defuse this potentially harmful situation. Crowd members began acting verbally and physically aggressive toward the plaintiffs. Mr. Chaverst was struck repeatedly by members of the crowd and was unable to move, as the mob prevented any clear exit paths. Meanwhile, Mr. Southall was forced to the ground and endured a flurry of attacks. As the police finally converged on the melee, someone was choking Southall at the neck.
Complaint 2:16-cv-01687 filed in the US District Court for Alabama's Northern District cites violations of negligence according to premises liability and constitutional rights, as well as assault and breach of contract.
As related to premises liability, the claim states:
- Southall and Chaverst were guests of the Defendant's event on their property, intending to listen to the candidate's political platform and to exercise rights to free speech.
- The Defendants were aware of, (or should have been) the existence of unreasonably dangerous conditions and provided no warnings or corrections.
- The Defendant's failure to warn or remedy the conditions demonstrated negligence proximately causing the Plaintiff's injuries.
- Southall sustained injuries and bruises to the head and neck, a concussion, and emotional distress, which are likely to continue into the future.
- Chaverest suffered mental and physical distress, which a reasonable person would agree, will persist into the future.
- Both Plaintiffs have injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages in excess of one-million dollars.
The Plaintiffs allege the Defendants breached contract obligations by:
- Failures in providing public safety and duties to maintain the location in reasonably safe conditions.
- The conscious acts (and inactions) exhibited disregard for attendee safety, sufficiently allowing for punitive damages under the law.
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