This Friday, an appeals court reinstated a 2017 lawsuit filed against Fox News by the parents of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich. According to the Rich family, Fox pushed unverified claims about his murder and disseminated conspiracy theories suggesting his murder was linked to DNC emails released by Wikileaks during the 2016 election, Law & Crime reports.
Joel and Mary Rich say the resulting right-wing media complex's obsession with their son's murder caused them "emotional distress."
Fox News retracted its initial story on Rich's murder one week after it was published in May of 2017, saying it “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny.”
Last year, the lawsuit was thrown out by a lower court judge who said it failed to "adequately allege essential elements of the causes of action asserted." But this Friday, a panel of federal appeals court judges in New York said that throwing out the lawsuit was the wrong decision.
“The Riches’ complaint plausibly alleges enough facts to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress — for extreme and outrageous conduct by [Fox News],” the judges wrote. “We have no trouble concluding that — taking their allegations as true — the Riches plausibly alleged what amounted to a campaign of emotional torture.”
In a statement responding to the ruling, Fox News continued to insist that their coverage of Rich's murder wasn't misleading.
"The court’s ruling today permits Mr. and Mrs. Rich to proceed with discovery to determine whether there is a factual basis for their claims against FOX News," the statement read. "And while we extend the Rich family our deepest condolences for their loss, we believe that discovery will demonstrate that FOX News did not engage in conduct that will support the Riches’ claims. We will be evaluating our next legal steps."
In July of 2016, the 27-year-old staffer was shot and killed in Washington D.C. near his home. Police have ruled his murder to be the result of a botched robbery and have found no evidence that his killing was linked to the release of DNC emails.