Trump Campaign Protest Violence Case Won’t Be a Class Action

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge has declined to certify a class of people injured at a June 2016 Donald Trump rally in San Jose, California, in which those suing the city claim police officers directed them into a mob of angry anti-Trump protesters.

After attending a rally for then-presidential candidate Trump at the McEnery Convention Center, Trump supporters claim they faced threats and intimidation, and some were beaten and assaulted when San Jose Police would not allow them to exit except through the anti-Trump protesters.

The action, originally filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorney Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco in July 2016 has been substantially narrowed since by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. Specifically, Koh has severed and dismissed state law claims against individual private citizens, allowing them to be refiled in state court.

This left claims against city defendants, including police officers.

Police chief Eddie Garcia, who helped devise the incident action plan for the rally – but who was not on duty the night of the rally – saw all claims against him dismissed. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has also been dismissed.

In late May, the plaintiffs moved for class certification seeking injunctive relief for civil rights violations committed “under the color of state law.” They also sought to certify a subclass of those who were injured or whose property was damaged because of “state-created danger and negligence,” according to Koh’s order issued Tuesday.

However, Koh found neither the required predominance nor commonality within the proposed subclass and denied certification of it.

“Common issues cannot predominate where ‘individualized inquiries’ are necessary that ‘go to key elements of the class’s claims,’ Koh wrote, citing Andrews v. Plains All Am. Pipeline.

The subclass falls, primarily due to the fourteen individual altercations alleged, where “individualized inquiries [are] necessary to establish defendants’ liability,” and “the impossibility of calculating damage on a classwide basis,” both of which defeat predominance.

Also, “plaintiffs’ failure to identify a classwide course of conduct” defeats commonality, Koh wrote.

“The on-duty officers are not a monolith, they are individual officers making independent judgments and decisions,” Koh wrote. “Their individual actions thus do not automatically constitute a classwide course of conduct.

“Plaintiffs fail to specify how or even whether the on-duty officers acted in concert, such as through some sort of centralized decision-making. Nor do plaintiffs indicate at what point plaintiffs believe the danger became ‘known or obvious’ to each of the individual on-duty officers, such that following the incident action plan was no longer appropriate,” she continued.

Finally, Koh found the putative class lacks standing for injunctive relief because they can’t definitively show the defendant officers will repeat the supposedly harmful conduct and that the plaintiffs will suffer from future supposedly harmful conduct.

“We respect Judge Koh and the effort she has put into looking at all the evidence and applying the law,” plaintiffs’ attorney Harmeet Dhillon wrote in an email after the ruling. “We disagree with aspects of these rulings on class and subclass certification, and are considering our options with our clients, at this time. Importantly, the individual victims’ claims still exist and may proceed. For Juan Hernandez, Rachel Casey, and the other plaintiffs assaulted and injured that day, we intend to continue to pursue justice,” Dhillon continued.

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