Klan ordered to pay $2.5 million in civil trial
November 15, 2008
BRANDENBURG, Ky. -- The leader of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America and a former Klansman must pay $2.5million in damages for the beating of a minority teenager at a county fair that left him with permanent injuries, a Meade County jury ruled late last night.
Morris Dees of the The Southern Poverty Law Center working in conjunction with Willaim F. McMurry and Steven R. Crebessa as co-counsel represented Jordan Gruver, 19 in this suit against the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and four Klansmen. Dees & McMurry argued that Ron Edwards, the Klan group's Imperial Wizard, recklessly bred an atmosphere of hate and violence and was liable for Gruver's July 2006 beating at the hands of his Klansmen, even though he didn't order it.
William F. McMurry's involvement in the case included selecting the jury and putting key witness Kale Kelly on the stand. Former klansman Kale Kelly testified at the trial that Edwards instructed him to kill Dees during the SPLC's lawsuit against the Aryan Nations in the late 1990s. Kelly said he planned to track Dees in Idaho, where the trial was held, and that Edwards would supply the weapon.
William F. McMurry also conducted the direct exam of the Plaintiff, the direct exam of all damage witnesses and the closing argument. Never before has Morris Dees allowed a co-council to put the SPLC's client on the stand or conduct the closing argument. William F. McMurry worked on this case "pro bono", charging no fee for his time.
The jury deliberated for nearly seven hours before delivering the verdict against IKA Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards and two former IKA members, Jarred Hensley and Andrew Watkins, both of whom served two years in state prison for assaulting Gruver. The verdict included $1.5 million in compensatory damages -- apportioned among Edwards, Hensley and Watkins -- and $1 million in punitive damages against Edwards.
Link to The Southern Poverty Law Center story.