Judge tosses deputy's lawsuit against Black Lives Matter
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Oct. 27, 2017
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that accused Black Lives Matter and several movement leaders of inciting violence that led to a gunman's deadly ambush of law enforcement officers in Louisiana last year.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson's ruling Friday said lawyers for a Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy wounded in the attack "utterly failed to state a plausible claim" and instead launched a "rambling" and "confused attack" against Black Lives Matter, movement leader DeRay Mckesson and others.
Jackson previously ruled Black Lives Matter is a social movement and therefore can't be sued. Last month, he threw out a separate lawsuit in which a Baton Rouge police officer blamed Black Lives Matter and Mckesson for injuries he sustained during a protest over a black man's shooting death during a struggle with police.
The officer's lawyers also attempted to add "#BlackLivesMatter" as a defendant, but Jackson ruled a hashtag can't be sued either.
Donna Grodner, a Baton Rouge-based attorney who filed both suits, filed a notice Thursday that she is appealing last month's ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She declined to comment on the judge's latest ruling.
"I would like to respond, but I don't think it would be appropriate under the circumstances," she said.
Gavin Long, a 29-year-old black former Marine from Kansas City, Missouri, shot and killed three officers and wounded three others outside a convenience store and car wash near Baton Rouge police headquarters before he was shot dead. The attack on July 17, 2016, occurred less than two weeks after a white Baton Rouge police officer shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man.
Jackson had warned Grodner in an earlier order that he intended to dismiss the suit she filed on behalf of one of the wounded officer, but he gave her more time to present her arguments for letting the case proceed. Grodner asked to amend her suit, but the judge said that would be "futile."
The suit doesn't name the wounded officer but its description of the plaintiff matches East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Tullier. Jackson said nothing in his ruling "impugns the character and courage" of the wounded deputy.
"That he suffered and continues to suffer from the injuries he sustained in the line of duty is not in question, nor should it be minimized," the judge added.