Trump Fans Can’t Sue San Jose as a Group Over Violence at Rally

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump fans who accuse police of not protecting them at a 2016 presidential campaign rally that turned violent failed to convince a judge that they should be able to sue on behalf of thousands who attended the event.

The 20 rally-goers brought civil rights claims against San Jose, California, and a handful of police officers saying that everyone at the event was put in danger and should be part of the lawsuit. On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected the request.

Conservative lawyer, Republican Party officer and Fox News contributor Harmeet Dhillon also asked the judge to allow a smaller group -- people who were injured by protesters -- to be allowed to sue as a group. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected that request too.

She said the proposed members could not be lumped together because all of their experiences were so different.

“They took myriad different paths to varying destinations, at variable times, and encountered distinct groups of private individuals,” Koh wrote. “Their encounters with private individuals culminated in a multitude of different injuries -- to the extent they suffered any injury at all.”

People who came to downtown San Jose in June 2016 to support Trump complained they were punched, chased and harassed -- and in one instance, bitten -- by counter-protesters. The central allegation in the suit is that Trump supporters were directed by police officers “toward the violent mob, away from safety, and were then abandoned there.” A trial is set for June, at the height of the 2020 campaign season.

The case has survived multiple efforts by San Jose to derail it. A federal appeals court last year rejected the city’s argument that police couldn’t be second-guessed for making legitimate law enforcement decisions, with a three-judge panel saying officers were aware of violence at other pro-Trump rallies.

The case is Hernandez v. San Jose, 16-cv-03957, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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