US jury orders Rudy Giuliani to pay $148M in defamation case News
Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
US jury orders Rudy Giuliani to pay $148M in defamation case

A US federal jury Friday ordered former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pay $148M in damages to Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Mossin after accusing the two women of tampering with Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. Giuliani must pay $16M to each plaintiff for defamation, $20M to each plaintiff for emotional distress and $75M in punitive damages. The former New York City mayor’s current net worth and assets are reportedly no more than $50M.

Freeman and Moss were volunteer election workers in Georgia during the 2020 election. After Biden’s victory in the traditionally red state, allies of then-President Donald Trump, including Giuliani, began spreading rumors about the integrity of the election online. Giuliani singled out Freeman and Moss on his Twitter page. In particular, he repeatedly shared a video of Moss he claimed showed her fraudulently replacing ballots for Trump in favor of Biden.

In December 2020, Giuliani created what he referred to as a “Strategic Communications Plan” to push Trump’s election interference narrative and convince lawmakers to certify the election in favor of Trump. The plan identified Freeman as an election worker by name. Freeman was falsely accused of “ballot stuffing” and having a criminal record for voter fraud. Giuliani repeated these claims and Freeman’s name dozens of times in subsequent months online and on his podcast. After an investigation, Georgia’s state election board cleared the women—mother and daughter—of election fraud.

Freeman and Moss say that the ordeal with Giuliani has “changed their lives.” They add that since Giuliani’s assault on their characters, they must fund a costly public campaign to restore their reputations. According to their lawyers, Giuliani’s targeting has also cost the two their sense of safety. The women received hundreds of threatening letters, emails and texts after they were put in the public spotlight. Some of these messages were violent and specific, including one in which the writer prayed that Freeman and Moss would be hung on Capitol Hill.

In the summer, a federal judge found Giuliani liable for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy to commit those torts. Giuliani continued to make disparaging comments about Freeman and Moss after the ruling, doubling down on his claims that they had fraudulently altered election results. Giuliani fought the ruling into early December, saying the plaintiffs had not proved that his comments online were the “proximate cause” of their damages and that they had not sufficiently pled their case. Judge Beryl Howell overruled each of these appeals.

Giuliani says he will continue to fight the decision. His lawyers are putting together an appeal to attempt to lower the amount in damages.