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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 11:39 AM
Updated: Aug 4, 2018 11:39 AM

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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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