Judge dismisses Avenatti case against Fox
A Delaware judge on Friday granted a motion to dismiss a case against Fox News brought by Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
Judge Stephanos Bibas, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Delaware, dismissed without prejudice the case Avenatti brought against Fox News.
Avenatti launched a lawsuit against Fox for their coverage regarding his arrest on suspicion of felony domestic abuse.
His lawsuit claimed the company defamed him, the reporters acted recklessly in their coverage and special damage was done to him from their reporting.
“Avenatti dislikes how Fox News covered his arrest. But he cannot overcome the truthfulness of the gist of Fox’s coverage—he was, after all, arrested for suspected domestic violence,” Bibas wrote in his opinion.
The judge wrote that statements made by Fox News characterized by Avenatti as defamatory were opinions and protected under the Constitution.
The judge added that many of the statements made by the media outlet were “substantially true” regarding his arrest.
Avenatti took issue with Fox saying he was formally charged when he was only arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse.
“There is a difference to lawyers. But I assess the statements in question from the perspective of the average reader, not a person trained in the technicalities of the law,” Bibas wrote.
“Police are supposed to have good reason to arrest people. So to the average reader, the ‘gist’ and the ‘sting’ would be the same had Defendants reported only that he was arrested for suspected domestic violence,” the judge added.
According to Bibas, Avenatti also failed to prove there was malice behind Fox New’s coverage, saying the allegation that the journalists at the company reported recklessly was “too vague.”
“We are pleased with the Court’s swift decision in favor of FOX News. Today’s ruling is a victory for journalists everywhere, who should not be intimidated into silence when bullies like Michael Avenatti file baseless multimillion-dollar lawsuits,” a Fox News Media spokesperson said.
The Hill has reached out to Avenatti’s lawyers for comment.
In July, Avenatti was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity.