The docket and media files had to be stored seperate from the case summary. Please see those documents on our wiki at https://court.raindrop.works/wiki/20CV19618
This case is a long winding and at times confusing case featuring a broad variety of allegations against a number of individuals and organizations, with events starting in 2019 or earlier. Due to current media order rules, much accurate information from the actual trial is hard to find and this may go through significant revisions as a result.
Andy Ngo, former writer for Vanguard and Quillette, currently works as an Editor at Large for Post Millennial, a Canadian media organization. He filed a case alleging assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as claims against Oregon’s RICO statutes, requesting $900,000 in damages. The original complaint named Rose City Antifa, Benjamin Bolen, John Hacker, Katherine Belyea, Joseph Evans, Madison Allen and 50 Doe defendants. In the introduction, he claimed that these parties were coordinating to harass, stalk and intimidate him, and that Antifa was declared a ‘domestic terrorist group’ by the US government (Politico’s reporting on this claim suggests that while the federal government did make this determination in 2016, it appears that is was a direct response to increasing threats of right wing extremism, as well as, at worst, it’s seen as a disorganized group of cells that sometimes coordinate with each other.) The first factual allegation made in this complaint references two op-eds that written to The Hill and Washington Examiner in his claims that Antifa calls for insurrectionary anarchy to overthrow the government. (While The Hill is generally leased biased and mostly factual in it’s reporting, Media Bias does not list the op-ed author, James Casey, as one of it’s normal opinion writers. Mr. Casey’s bio indicates he was a career law enforcement officer, with a specialty in militia, neo-Nazi and anarchist groups. Washington Examiner, however, is rated as as significant right leaning in their content and editorials, with only mixed factual reporting. Their op-ed is attributed to the outlet itself, with no individual writer taking credit.
May 1, 2019
The first individual claim that is made is that John Bolen punched Mr. Ngo in the abdomen at an ICE protest on May Day 2019. Later that day, Mr. Ngo went to Cider Riot!, a since closed bar to document a protest by Patriot Prayer of a gathering of leftists individuals after their planned protests were done for the day. Mr. Ngo noted that the bar was since closed after the hit-and-run killing of anti fascist Sean Kealiher, a case that was still open at the time of the complaint (since then, Portland Police arrested the primary suspect in August of 2022, after OPB reported that records showed PPB purposefully slow walked the investigation, possibly for ideological reasons.) Mr. Ngo was allegedly maced by a Doe defendant and fled the scene due to not feeling safe. Many of these details were covered in the subsequent riot charges against a variety of members of Patriot Prayer. Some members took plea deals, some were found guilty, and some cases were dismissed by the judge.
May 7, 2019
The second incident, a week later, were allegations against John Hacker for throwing an ‘unknown liquid’ onto Mr. Ngo’s head and stealing his phone when Mr. Ngo attempted to record him. Several years later, Mr. Hacker was charged with felony theft in the case, and in the case, the ‘unknown liquid’ turned out to be water, and the ‘theft’ of the phone was an unplanned action due to Mr. Hacker not feeling safe being filmed by Mr. Ngo, doubly so in a place that had a ‘no camera’ policy in place. Shortly after Mr. Hacker took the phone, he handed it to gym staff who returned it to Mr. Ngo with no further incident. In the criminal trial, Mr. Ngo admitted that the only damage that day was a crack to his phone case (that he couldn’t identify based on police photos of the case). The judge found Mr. Hacker innocent of the charge in the criminal case (it is worth noting the burden of proof is lower in civil cases than criminal cases), but had strong words for both parties about the incident and their actions.
June 29, 2019
On this day Mr. Ngo arguably became world famous for the ‘milkshake incident’. At a protest where another organization, PopMob, was handing out vegan milkshakes, a number of people threw their milkshakes at Mr. Ngo. He alleged Katherine Belyea was one such individual. Portland Police had issued a warning on their Twitter account that the milkshakes may have contained quick-drying concrete. Prior investigative reporting showed that the evidence basically came from how one police officers thought the drinks smelled like wet concrete, even though no one drinking them suffered ill effects. Mr. Ngo later claims he was ‘mobbed and bloodied’ by a group of Rose City Antifa members, listed as Does 21-43 and specifically naming Joseph Evans and Madison Allen as assailants.
After reporting the attack to police at the Central Precinct, he went to OHSU, where he alleged he was diagnosed with a ‘subarachnoid brain hemorrhage and hospitalized overnight’ (in the subsequent criminal trial against Mr. Hacker, Mr. Ngo suggested, and agreed with the defense’s question, that he suffered brain damage in the incident). Several days later a video was posted to the Fox News YouTube channel of an interview he gave them after the attack.
October 31, 2019
As part of a protest/prank on Halloween, six people wearing masks of Mr. Ngo’s face stood outside his home, banging on windows and trying to open the door handle. This told Mr. Ngo that his personal information had been found out and distributed among other people, and that such doxxing caused him to fear for the safety of him and his family.
After laying out the claims for damage, he asked for a judgement ‘exceeding $300,000, trebled to $900,000’ (as part of the Oregon RICO statutes) as well as attorney fees and costs, pre-interest judgement, and injunctive relief preventing the Defendants from ‘harassing, threatening, harming’ Mr. Ngo.
Almost immediately the case began running into problems, as by the end of August only two parties were actually served, with people not named in the case getting served (presumably in an attempt to serve Rose City Antifa) and difficulties finding other defendants to provide service. From August 2020 to March of 2021 Mr. Ngo worked with the courts to attempt to serve defendants who he alleged had fled the state and/or were ducking process servers to avoid service. In September 3, 2020 filings, the process server stated that both were attempting to also evade unrelated court actions and bench warrants, and at least one was attempting service in Boise, Idaho.
Benjamin Bolen attempts to cancel case against him
On September 21st, 2020, Benjamin Bolen, who Mr. Ngo claimed ‘rabbit punched’ him in the stomach on May 1st, 2019, files a motion asking to be stricken from the case, claiming that he never punched Mr. Ngo, and that the photo that Mr. Ngo used to identify him in the complaint is a completely different person. He also raised objections that the complaint was overly broad, not showing a good connection between any of the parties or dates involved, and that the real motivation for the lawsuit was to punish others for their political ideology.
In November 2020, Judge Kathleen Daily denied the motion, stating that since this was essentially an anti-SLAPP motion, violence alleged against another person is not protected speech under the First Amendment, and as the alleged punch was the cause of the lawsuit against Bolen, it was that punch that would have to be seen as protected speech before the legal analysis could continue. It was a defense that could be made at trial. Mr. Bolen appealed the case to the appellate court (under case A175559), who upheld the judge’s decision.
During the flurry of motions and cross-motions dealing with the strike, Mr. Ngo claimed that he was attacked at 2:45pm on May 1st, had no injuries at the time and had been experiencing pain immediately after being punched and sought medical treatment. However, the brawl at Cider Riot! was early in the evening and it’s uncertain if he would have sought treatment before or after the alleged pepper there. His lawyer also claimed that the declarations by Bolen and another witness were full of unverifiable claims or outright fabrications. Many of the filings by Mr. Ngo’s lawyers relink the same Hill editorial vilifying Antifa as a group.
By the end of October, the court docket is filled with a flurry of motions to strike, cross motions to strike, responses to the cross motion to strike, and responses to the responses to cross motion to strike, which, while not entirely uncommon in complex litigation, does make for confusing reading.
First Amended Complaint
In a filing on July 21, 2021, Mr. Ngo filed a motion requesting to amend his original complaint. In the motion, he alleged a new incident from May 28, 2021 that implicated Mr. Hacker and Rose City Antifa, as well as introducing a new defendant, Elizabeth Richter. This new incident, which started as an event commemorating the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, is commonly referred to as The Nines as the alleged assault primarily took place around and inside the Hotel Nines in Downtown Portland. In the proposed complaint, Mr. Ngo claims that Mr. Hacker only spoke to him, questioning him (which Mr. Ngo did not respond to), and that unnamed individuals unmasked Mr. Ngo, confirming his identity. Nothing in this original encounter suggests that Mr. Hacker had anything to do with the unmasking or did anything other than speak to Mr. Ngo.
He alleged that he was attacked by an unknown individual, and then was followed by Ms. Richter into the hotel. He said that Ms. Richter ‘call[ed] out, in substance, for them to assist in beating Ngo.’ and other comments that Mr. Ngo perceived as threatening.
It appeared that Mr. Ngo was trying to hold Ms. Richter jointly responsible for all the 2019 actions as part of the original Oregon RICO claims, alleging that all the defendants are connected through Rose City Antifa. The primary criteria that he appears to be using is the the defendants frequent use of ‘black bloc’, or wearing all black to minimize or hide their individual identities, claiming that that is enough to prove they were all in the same organization. This seems to fly in the face of frequent news portrayals of other groups across the world using similar obscuring tactics for a variety of purposes, including thefts and self-proclaimed Nazis, who would be the ideological opposition to anti fascists.
Mr. Bolen immediately objected, as the proposed amendment implicated him in new allegations, which the trial court couldn’t address due to the ongoing appeal. Mr. Hacker also objected, noting that, contrary to the certification made by Mr. Ngo’s counsel, no attempt was made to gain consent of other parties for filing the motion (a violation of several Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure). Additionally, he points out that none of the claims made allege anything that could be construed to rise to the level of the harms alleged by him.
In Mr. Ngo’s reply, his attorney refers to Mr. Bolen and Hacker as ‘two members of the criminal gang which continues to terrorize innocent Portlanders’, citing a Post Millenial article co-written by Mr. Ngo. They further counter Mr. Hacker’s complaints with an allegation that has he was questioning Mr. Ngo prior to the attack, he was the one to identify him to other protesters, instigating the attack. It was also pointed out that Mr. Hacker’s lawyer had asked for a week to review the proposed filing and a month later, Mr. Ngo took the lack of response to mean they didn’t object.
In finalizing her order in November 2021, Judge Dailey determined that Mr. Ngo could not modify some of the complaints against Mr. Bolen due to the pending appeal, but the remainder of the requested amendments could be made.
Similar difficulties were faced by Mr. Ngo in affecting service on Ms. Richter, who was able to gain counsel in February 2023.