On Thursday, a New York federal judge granted Fox News’ motion to dismiss lawsuit brought by the family of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, writes The Hollywood Reporter.
The Rich family sued FNC in March 2018 over a since-retracted story published the previous year on FoxNews.com detailing allegations that Rich was involved in a Wikileaks conspiracy.
Fox News has also been sued by Fox News contributor and investigator Rod Wheeler over the matter. Wheeler claims he was misquoted in the since-retracted story. Fox News lawyers sought to dismiss that suit, and they were successful in that pursuit as a result of the judge dismissing the Rich family’s suit today.
ABC News reported in March that Fox News investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News guest commentator Ed Bustowsky reached out to the Rich family under false pretenses to support stories that Rich leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
In their lawsuit, the Richs say they experienced post-traumatic stress disorder because of the since-retracted reports and attempted to hold Fox News, Zimmerman and Butowsky liable for “intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), tortious interference with the Rich’s contract with Wheeler, and negligent supervision.”
“Plaintiffs’ allegations fall short of stating a claim for IIED,” writes U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels. “It is understandable that Plaintiffs might feel that their grief and personal loss were taken advantage of, and that the tragic death of their son was exploited for political purposes. However, a general allegation that Defendants had an ‘agreement to collaborate against’ Plaintiffs cannot form the basis for an IIED claim; rather, specific instances of each individual’s conduct are required.”
Rich was murdered in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016 not far from his apartment in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington. He had been an employee of the Democratic National Committee at the time. Zimmerman wrote the initial story for FoxNews.com which continued to get play on Fox News, primarily on Sean Hannity‘s prime time program, until May 2017, when FNC ended up retracting the article.
In March, the Rich family told ABC News’ Tom Llamas that Fox News’ initial online report was “salt in the wound” of losing their son, which law enforcement calls a botched robbery attempt. “We lost his body the first time. And the second time we lost his soul. They took more from us with their lie,” said Rich’s mother.