CHARLOTTESVILLE - Susan Bro hopes to send a powerful anti-hate message with a $12 million lawsuit against James Alex Fields Jr., the man convicted of murdering her daughter on Aug. 12, 2017.
In an interview Wednesday, Bro, whose daughter, Heather Heyer, was killed when Fields rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, said, “We want to show others that there are serious consequences for actions of hatred and violence. This lawsuit is a way to continue to extinguish hatred.”
The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed Aug. 30 in Charlottesville Circuit Court, names Fields as the sole defendant.
Bro, the administrator of Heyer’s estate, is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages, according to the complaint. Bro and Heyer’s father and brother are listed as beneficiaries.
Bro said she is not interested in Fields’ “blood money,” but wants to make sure that he will never profit from selling the rights to his story or publishing a memoir.
Fields, 22, has been convicted of various criminal charges for driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters on the day of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally. When Fields struck the crowd, he killed Heyer and injured dozens, shocking the nation.
He is serving more than two dozen life sentences resulting from state and federal convictions.
After her daughter’s death, Bro formed the Heather Heyer Foundation with the goal of honoring Heyer's memory by giving financial assistance to people who are passionate about social change.
The foundation recently partnered with another nonprofit, the Sum, to launch the Heyer Voices program, which is designed to help high school students understand and improve themselves and then work in the community to foster change.
Fields is a defendant in a spate of state and federal lawsuits filed by victims of the attack. Many of the suits also seek millions in damages from Fields and organizers of the rally.
At Fields' June federal sentencing, U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski said he was in favor of penalizing fields $2,900 on each of the 29 hate crime charges to which he pleaded guilty. Because Fields' ability to make money in prison is limited, Urbanski opted to schedule a hearing on Sept. 26 to determine compensation.
Fields' sentencing memorandum stipulates that each victim will receive a proportional share of any partial payment Fields makes.