STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Fox News filed by parents of Seth Rich

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed in its entirety a case filed by the parents of slain Democratic Nation...

Posted: Aug 4, 2018 12:39 PM
Updated: Aug 4, 2018 12:39 PM

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed in its entirety a case filed by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich against Fox News, one of the network's reporters, and a Texas businessman.

Judge George B. Daniels of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in his opinion that he had granted Fox News' motion to dismiss the lawsuit over the plaintiffs' "failure to state a claim."

More specifically, Daniels said that "each of the Plaintiffs' claims fail to adequately allege essential elements of the causes of action asserted."

A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately return a request for comment. Neither did the lawyers for the Rich family or Butowsky.

Joel and Mary Rich, who filed their lawsuit in March, had sought compensation for "mental anguish and emotional distress" caused by the publication of a baseless conspiracy theory regarding the 2016 unsolved murder of their son.

Exclusive: The chaos behind the scenes of Fox News' now-retracted Seth Rich story

The lawsuit said that Malia Zimmerman, the Fox News reporter named in the lawsuit, worked with Ed Butowsky, the Texas businessman, to develop a "sham" story about Rich's death that Fox News published online in May 2017 and referenced on-air multiple times.

Zimmerman's story said Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and Fox News contributor hired by Butowsky on behalf of the Rich family to look into Rich's death, had learned that Wikileaks had been in contact with Rich prior to his death. The story suggested without real evidence that Rich had leaked a trove of DNC emails to Wikileaks and further suggested that his death, which police suspect was a botched robbery, was retribution for the supposed leak.

Within hours, however, the Fox News story fell apart when Wheeler -- who sued Fox News over the story, but also had his case dismissed by Daniels on Thursday -- told CNN he had no evidence to suggest Rich had contacted Wikileaks before his death.

But Fox News left the story up on its website for days and guests continued to mention the conspiracy theory on its air. The network ultimately retracted the story seven days after it was published.

The Rich family lawsuit said the actions taken by the defendants "were so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and are atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community."

Attorneys for Fox News filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and requested an oral hearing in May. Daniels granted the hearing and heard the case in late June.

During the oral arguments, Daniels grilled Fox News' legal defense team. But Daniels really tore into the attorneys representing the Rich family.

At several points during the hearing, Daniels told one of the Rich attorneys that his understanding of the law was incorrect.

"What you are saying is legally wrong!" Daniels explained during on contentious debate. "It is wrong!"

Updated: This story has been updated to clarify the circumstances of Rod Wheeler's hiring, and to note that Wheeler's lawsuit against Fox News was also dismissed on Thursday.

West Lafayette
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 83°
Kokomo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Rensselaer
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 78°
Fowler
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 83°
Williamsport
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 80°
Crawfordsville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Delphi
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 80°
Monticello
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Logansport
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Once more pleasant day before we see changes with an increase in heat and humidity, and thunderstorm chances.
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749835

Reported Deaths: 13752
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031281779
Lake555181006
Allen41642691
St. Joseph36959564
Hamilton36537416
Elkhart29373459
Tippecanoe22871224
Vanderburgh22544400
Porter19339325
Johnson18412388
Hendricks17594317
Clark13202193
Madison13128344
Vigo12606253
LaPorte12400221
Monroe12175175
Delaware10949198
Howard10270225
Kosciusko9615119
Hancock8556145
Bartholomew8162157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7775180
Grant7230179
Wayne7158201
Boone6922103
Morgan6742141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6208116
Cass5997109
Henry5894108
Dearborn589078
Noble580287
Jackson508774
Shelby500897
Lawrence4735121
Gibson444293
Harrison441073
Clinton440455
DeKalb438985
Montgomery434890
Whitley406042
Huntington402281
Steuben399359
Miami392968
Jasper387054
Knox375790
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346570
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White330853
Daviess3031100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286685
Fayette284864
Posey273735
LaGrange273072
Scott269955
Clay266048
Washington245034
Randolph244683
Jennings235249
Spencer234231
Starke227858
Fountain219147
Sullivan214043
Owen211258
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187037
Rush175726
Vermillion174044
Franklin170235
Tipton166046
Parke149016
Pike138134
Blackford136132
Pulaski120347
Newton113036
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101114
Martin91615
Warren83615
Switzerland8108
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events