Paying damages in Sines vs. Kessler lawsuit

Outside the federal courthouse in Charlottesville (FILE)
Outside the federal courthouse in Charlottesville (FILE)
Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 2:58 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The defendants recently found liable in the Sines versus Kessler case now owe millions of dollars in damages, but getting that money may be a long process.

Some organizers and active participants of the 2017 Unite the Right rally are on the hook for a combined $25 million. With some of them already in prison or unemployed, many are left wondering how they will pay the damages. For instance, James Alex Fields Jr., who drove the car in the deadly attack that killed Heather Heyer, was found liable for $12 million in damages. Fields is already serving life in prison.

The plaintiffs have a few ways to collect their money. They can place liens on houses or properties and garnish future wages. University of Virginia professor of law Micah Schwartzman says collection efforts all come down to symbolism.

“For some of them, it will mean financial ruin and bankruptcy. They may be judgement proof, in the sense that they simply don’t have the financial means to pay out these damage awards. In those kind of cases the damages may be symbolic, but I think here the symbolism matters,” Schwartzman said.

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