WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal Tuesday of claims against Hillary Clinton by parents whose sons died in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Patricia Smith and Charles Woods sued Clinton in 2014, claiming the former secretary of state defamed them and falsely told them in a September 2012 meeting that the Sept. 11, 2012, attack was incited by an anti-Muslim YouTube video.
Alleging wrongful-death and negligence claims as well, the complaint suggested that Clinton’s careless use of private email server for government business allowed the attack plotters to exploit sensitive information for their plan.
Smith and Woods appealed after a federal court judge dismissed the case, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed Tuesday.
Agreeing that the lower court properly substituted the United States for Clinton as a defendant, today’s ruling says that Clinton’s emails were transmitted as part of her official work for the government, even when using a private server.
“Regardless of whether or not these activities were conducted properly or lawfully, those types of communications fall within the heartland of her duties as secretary of state,” the unsigned opinion states.
As for Clinton disputing how the parents characterized their meeting, the ruling says such statements did not amount to defamation or cast them in a false light because she did not go so far as to accuse them of lying.
“Because Clinton merely disagreed with Smith and Woods’ recollection of events and couched this disagreement in sympathy, no reasonable person could conclude that Clinton’s statements put Smith and Woods in a ‘highly offensive’ false light,” the opinion states.
Neither the State Department nor Larry Klayman, the attorney who represents Smith and Woods, immediately responded to requests for comment on the ruling.