Last week, the Second Circuit vacated a decision by Judge Daniels that dismissed a suit against Fox News by the family of DNC staffer Seth Rich (see our coverage of that decision here). The complaint alleged that Fox News and two contributors intentionally exploited the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich during the 2016 election season. According to the complaint, Rich was murdered in Washington in what authorities believed was a botched robbery; Fox News then allegedly reported a false story that Rich had been murdered after leaking thousands of DNC emails to Wikileaks.
According to the Second Circuit, the family members had plausibly plead their claims against the network for intentional infliction of emotional distress:
We have no trouble concluding that—taking their allegations as true—the Riches plausibly alleged what amounted to a campaign of emotional torture. In order to publish a knowingly false article accusing Seth of leaking the DNC emails, Butowsky and Zimmerman needed a reliable source. They settled on a purportedly independent investigator, hired by the Riches. But they had to fabricate that source. So Butowsky—through lies, religious appeals, and financial support—convinced the Riches to hire Wheeler, a Fox News contributor, as their private investigator. Eventually, Butowsky and Zimmerman told Wheeler that an anonymous FBI investigator had seen emails between Seth and WikiLeaks. Wheeler then regurgitated that unsubstantiated information back to Zimmerman, giving her a named source (himself) for her Fox News article. The article emphasized Wheeler’s connection to the Riches, thus lending credibility to his statements. And it suggested that Seth may have leaked the emails because—as his father said—he “wanted to make a difference in the world.” These allegations, taken together, plausibly rise to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct.
The case has been remanded to Judge Daniels. Our full coverage of the case is here.