Can Certain Acts of Free Speech Be Responsible for Causing Personal Injury?

MONROE, Louisiana. On March 1, 2016, then candidate Donald Trump yelled “Get ‘em out of here!” from his podium during a rally in Louisville, Kentucky. After he said these words, certain individuals in the crowd started to shove and hit a group of protestors. According to the Atlantic, the protestors have sued Trump, seeking monetary damages for personal injuries and also claiming that then candidate Trump had “incited a riot.”
Would this lawsuit stand up in court? No judge has yet issued a final ruling on the case. But, recently, a judge ruled that the plaintiffs in the case have sufficient evidence to move their lawsuit forward. The case comes down to limits in the First Amendment that protects freedom of speech.
The First Amendment offers speakers and writers vast legal protections in regards to free speech. However, there are important exceptions to the law. One of those exceptions is when free speech is used to “incite” violence. Yet, even this limitation on the First Amendment is subject to its own set of strict limitations. For instance, plaintiffs seeking damages must prove that the person who spoke out intended to spark violence. There must also have been a real danger of violence present at the time the speech act was uttered. And finally, violence must have been imminent, meaning that the violent act must have occurred shortly after the speech incited it.
According to the judge ruling on the Trump case, given the tensions and divisions in America at the time, “Get ‘em out of here!” could have “plausibly” advocated use of force. The fact that the speaker issued the statement as an order, also possibly makes for a stronger case. The plaintiffs have also furnished evidence to show that others were injured after violence occurred at Trump rallies.
According to CNN, the protestors are suing the individuals who pushed them for assault and battery and are pursuing the Trump campaign for negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. The plaintiffs claim that Trump was aware his words could lead to violence, given the presence of a white nationalist group in the audience.
It isn’t yet clear whether the First Amendment will protect the Trump Campaign in this case. What is clear is that individuals who are hurt as a result of another person’s words may have rights. Individuals who have been personally injured as a result of another person’s actions or neglect may have the right to seek a recovery under the law to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
If you have been hurt or injured, visit www.318law.com. Our dedicated lawyers work closely with victims and families to help them get the maximum recovery permitted under the law. Victims and families may only have a limited amount of time to take action if they have been hurt due to another person’s negligence. Call the Monroe, Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Campbell, House, & Cummins today.

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