No damages awarded in Charlottesville lawsuit over Confederate statues

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) — UPDATE (Sept. 13):

A Charlottesville judge has decided not to award financial damages to people who claimed they were harmed by not being able to see two Confederate statues when they were covered by tarps.

Several plaintiffs had argued they deserved $500 each in damages for the pain caused by seeing the statues covered in the wake of the violence during the Unite the Right rally in 2017.

The city initially said it was covering the statues in shrouds in mourning for Heather Heyer, who was killed in a car attack near the Downtown Mall on Aug. 12, 2017. The rally was originally set up because of Charlottesville's decision to remove the statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and the Lee statue was its focal point.

However, the tarps were removed and replaced multiple times over the span of several months, repeatedly taken down by people against the city's decisions and replaced at taxpayer expense until a judge ruled that they had to be removed.

Judge Richard Moore said he was originally going to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, giving them the damages they wanted, but he was swayed by the city's argument Friday morning that the harm caused by seeing the tarps did not rise to the level of financial damages required by state law.

The next phase of the trial will involve the attorneys' fees.

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Closing arguments are underway in a trial concerning a city vote to remove two Confederate statues.

In Charlottesville, the trial is set to end Friday with a judge deciding if the city will pay damages and attorneys fees.

The plaintiffs are asking for $500 each and more than $600,000 in attorneys fees, saying the attorneys' fees are part of the damages suffered by the plaintiffs since the lawsuit was filed in 2017.

However, the city has argued the plaintiffs don't quality for damages because the statues were not physically harmed, the tarps have been removed and the court has ruled the statues must stay in place.

The judge is expected to issue his ruling on damages shortly, and then both sides will make their arguments regarding the attorneys' fees.