Charlottesville to appeal $26M verdict in Heather Heyer noose beating case

The Charlottesville woman whose life was thrown into a tailspin after being brutally assaulted by a mob of white nationalists isn’t likely to recoup her $26 million verdict.

Charlottesville, Virginia, will likely appeal the $26 million jury verdict against a former city employee who was convicted of malicious wounding for deliberately whipping a noose around Heather Heyer’s neck at last year’s white nationalist rally. An attorney for the city has said that appealing the verdict, as well as possibly entering a plea deal to pay some or all of the judgment, is a “good alternative.”

The Virginia Attorney General’s Office does not normally defend a court judgment, but can go forward if it decides that a town or city failed to abide by a statute of limitations, had “engaged in gross misconduct or willfully violated a law,” said Press Secretary Brian Gottstein.

The judge presiding over the case told the Associated Press that the appeal could take at least 10 years.

“That is the calculation,” said Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring. “The most common case would be 15 years.”

Elizabeth Fox on the Front Burner legal editor explained that the original decision to pay damages is made by the Commonwealth. She said that under state law, state attorneys decide what is reasonable to do for non-civil actions.

“From state law, there are all sorts of things that a town could do to keep the local people happy, and if it can’t, you can’t keep the town from doing it,” she said.

There’s also a potential influence from the jury’s verdict. The Daily Progress reported that the panel ruled that Heather Heyer was “in imminent physical danger” before the attack occurred.

However, although the jury found that the assault was racially motivated, they said no evidence was presented that defendant Jeffrey Charles Heyer, the city employee at the center of the case, instigated the noose-twirling.

The verdict was reached earlier this month, after three days of deliberation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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