Defendant Worried Kessler Court Victory Sets Alarming Precedent
Jason Kessler won a civil suit in court on Friday, but the money isn't what the defendant is worried about.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler won a civil suit in court on Friday, but it wasn’t a $5 payout that has the defendant concerned, it’s the potential precedent the verdict could send.
The suit filed by Jason Kessler argues Donna Gastabo broke Virginia Code 8.01-45 which is action for insulting words, and asked for $500 in damages. The lawsuit stems from comments made outside of General District Court during a rally for DeAndre Harris on March 16.
Friday, Kessler showed the court a video of Gastabo calling him a murderer and other offensive terms on the day of the rally.
Judge Robert Downer sided with Kessler, but argued the words did not damage Kessler’s reputation since Kessler was the one who posted the video on Twitter.
While Gastabo was only ordered to pay Kessler $5, the defense says this suit will impact public debate in the community.
“I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions,” said defense attorney Pamela Starsia.
The defense also says Gastabo’s comments should have fallen under rhetorical hyperbole, which is exaggerated language legal under the First Amendment.
Gastabo’s lawyer said she is looking into filing a potential appeal.