MANHATTAN (CN) — Fox News settled Tuesday with the parents of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich over the network’s broadcasting of a discredited conspiracy theory that smeared their son.
“The settlement with Fox News closes another chapter in our efforts to mourn the murder of our beloved Seth, whom we miss every single day,” the family said in statement this afternoon.
Represented by the law firms Massey & Gail LLP and Susman Godfrey, Joel and Mary Rich settled with Fox News for undisclosed amount.
“It allows us to move on from the litigation we initiated in response to Fox News’ May 2017 article and televised statements concerning Seth’s murder,” the Rich family wrote. “We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future.”
Rich’s parents, who live in Omaha, Nebraska, claimed they suffered symptoms of post‐traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder after Fox News pushed a discredited right-wing conspiracy theory that their son was involved in the leak of thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and was killed because of it.
Rich was shot twice in the back a block from his apartment in Washington’s gentrifying Bloomingdale neighborhood, on July 10, 2016. The murder remains unsolved.
Nearly a year after Rich’s death, in May 2017, Fox News published a story by reporter Malia Zimmerman suggesting that investigators had evidence it was Rich who leaked the DNC emails in the midst of the 2016 presidential election campaign.
The Riches alleged that Fox News, Zimmerman and Fox Business guest commentator Ed Butowsky “intentionally exploited this tragedy-including through lies, misrepresentations, and half-truths-with disregard for the obvious harm that their actions would cause Joel and Mary.”
Though U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels in Manhattan dismissed the suit in late 2018, the Second Circuit reversed a year later, saying the Riches should be allowed to amend their negligent supervision or retention claim concerning Zimmerman and non-party Rod Wheeler, a former Fox News contributor and retired detective who was the only named source for the retracted Rich story.
Pursuant to a joint stipulation the Riches filed Tuesday with defendants Fox News Network LLC, Zimmerman and Butowsky, the family’s claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against all defendants are now dismissed with prejudice, and each party agrees to waive all right to appeal and to seek attorneys’ fees and costs.
A Fox News spokesperson confirmed the settlement on Tuesday, telling Courthouse News: “We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward.