Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by Seth Rich's parents against Fox News

Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by Seth Rich's parents against Fox News
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A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News brought by the family of slain Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich, according to multiple news reports.

Judge George Daniels ruled there was not adequate evidence to back up the family's claims against the network.

Rich's family sued Fox News in March, alleging its coverage promoted dangerous conspiracy theories that implied their son gave internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

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The family pointed to a May 2017 story that said without evidence that Rich was responsible for the leak. Several network contributors, as well as host Sean Hannity, continued to promote the story even after Fox retracted the article.

The lawsuit also claimed Fox News reached out to Rich's family under false pretenses to support reporting that said he leaked DNC emails.

"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,” Daniels wrote, according to Variety. “However, a general allegation that Defendants had an ‘agreement to collaborate against’ Plaintiffs cannot form the basis of a ... claim."

Daniels dismissed the complaint in its entirety.

A second lawsuit brought against Fox News, Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter, by private detective Rod Wheeler was also dismissed by Daniels. 

Wheeler, who once appeared on the network as a contributor, was tapped by the Rich family at Butowsky’s behest to help the family investigate their son’s death.
 
Wheeler was quoted in the retracted story stating there was “information” connecting Rich to WikiLeaks and damaging information on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Dem strategist says Donna Brazile is joining Fox News 'for the money' CNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina MORE
 
Wheeler later asserted that Fox News and Zimmerman in her reporting didn't accurately represent what he had said about Rich and Wikileaks. Wheeler also claimed that Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter, had defamed him via a tweet stating that “Rod Wheeler has a major battle with the truth.”
 
 
Judge Daniels ruled Thursday that Wheeler failed to prove he was misquoted in the report, adding that Wheeler had provided consent to the story being publication. Daniels also described Ed Butowsky’s Twitter comment as mostly rhetorical.

The Hill has reached out to Butowsky for comment. 
 
Fox News declined to comment.

Far-right conspiracy theorists have said Rich was responsible for leaking the DNC documents, a line of argument that pushes back on allegations that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE's campaign may have colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE last month indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly hacking into the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign servers.

Earlier this week, an attendee at a Trump rally in Florida was seen holding a Seth Rich sign.

“The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension,” Joel and Mary Rich said in a statement provided to The Hill in March.

This story was updated at 12 p.m. Friday

Joe Concha contributed to this story.