A federal district court in the state of Kentucky ruled last Friday that a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, and other individuals, can proceed. The defendants sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but were only successful in each having one claim dismissed, despite each being sued under multiple claims.
The lawsuit stems from a March 2016 campaign rally where three protesters were forcibly removed from the audience after Trump stated: "Get 'em out of here." The lawsuit requests damages for injuries stemming from the removal, as well as punitive damages.
Details of the Case
The plaintiffs alleged in their court complaint that while they were peacefully protesting at a Trump campaign rally in March 2016, Trump, while on stage, exclaimed repeatedly for attendees to "Get 'em out of here," referring to the protesters. The three protesters all allege they were forcibly removed by other attendees, and one alleged being punched, and they suffered injury and damages.
Among the most serious allegations being alleged includes the claim that Trump incited a riot. Trump and the campaign asserted in motions to dismiss that there was never any intention for attendees to do the removing, or take action and that the repeated statements were directed at the venue security. The Trump camp also asserted numerous other legal arguments the court found meritless or unconvincing.
The court did not hold back in finding the Trump camp's arguments unconvincing. It noted that the plaintiffs' complaint had plentiful factual allegations to support claims that Trump's statement was an incitement, and therefore not protected by the First Amendment. Additionally, the court found that the factual allegations were sufficient to potentially hold Trump and his campaign liable under a negligence theory.
Presidential Liability for Pre-Presidential Actions
While the president enjoys immunity from civil lawsuits for official actions taken while in office, the same is not true for actions taken before being sworn into office. Famously, the Supreme Court found that President Bill Clinton could be held liable in Paula Jones matter. As such, President Trump can be held liable if the allegations alleged in the complaint are proven true.