More than three years after Fox News Channel retracted its story that a political conspiracy was behind the fatal shooting of Seth Rich, the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet has settled its legal battle with the DNC staffer’s family.
“IT IS STIPULATED AND AGREED by and between Plaintiffs Joel and Mary Rich and Defendants Fox News Network, LLC, Malia Zimmerman, and Edward Butowsky, that …the claims by Joel and Mary Rich against all Defendants are dismissed with prejudice, and each party waives all right to appeal and to seek attorneys’ fees and costs,” reads the filing Tuesday between the parties in federal court.
It is not known how much FNC paid the Rich family to end the matter. However, Rich’s parents Joel and Mary Rich made no secret of their relief at seeing the suit come to a conclusion.
“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 couple said in a statement today after the filing was made in New York City by their attorneys at Massey & Gail LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP. “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. We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future.”
FNC was brief in its own remarks on the settlement.
“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,” a spokesperson for Fox News said.
Having been at the Democratic National Committee for just over a year, Seth Rich was shot on July 10, 2016 near his home in DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. It came after the DNC and a number of Hillary Clinton campaign staffers were hacked during the 2016 election, with WikiLeaks dumping out private communications on numerous occasions during her unsuccessful presidential run against Donald Trump. The FNC story posted in 2017 attempted to draw a connection between Rich’s death and the document dump, suggesting Rich leaked for the Julian Assange-run group.
As more details of the story unraveled , the likes of Trump faves Hannity and Dobbs continued to bang on about the matter, with seemingly little thought for the grieving family or the facts.
In May 2018, the Rich family sued FNC, plus investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and FNC guest Ed Butowsky, for the harm caused by their “sham story.” Fox News eventually retracted the article, saying it “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.”
“No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure. 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 at the time their lawsuit was filed.
Still, FNC seemed to have the upper hand until the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruling revived the Rich lawsuit in September 2019, reversing a previous lower court decision to dismiss the matter.
Having said that, the joint dismissal move today has hit a road bump of its own.
“The stipulation of voluntary dismissal was not signed by all parties who have appeared,” said the court on the docket on Tuesday. “Re-file the document using the event type Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal found under the event list,” they added.