Giuliani ordered to pay $148M in defamation lawsuit

A jury ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay $148 million to two former Georgia election workers for baselessly claiming they committed fraud in the 2020 presidential election, delivering a staggering legal and financial blow for the former New York City mayor-turned-Trump attorney.

During the four-day civil trial, the eight Washington, D.C., residents heard harrowing testimony from the workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who said their lives were turned upside down as they faced a torrent of racist and violent threats following the accusations.

Giuliani was found liable in the case months ago, and the jury only convened to decide how much the former federal prosecutor must pay in damages. Before deliberations began, the mother-daughter duo asked for more than $47 million.

“Everyone who spread lies about Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman should be held accountable,” Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for the two women, said in closing remarks.

The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours before ordering Giuliani to pay the election workers a total of $148.7 million. 

Moss would receive nearly $17 million for Giuliani’s defamation and $20 million for his infliction of emotional distress. Freeman would receive nearly $16.2 million for the defamation and $20 million for emotional distress. The mother and daughter received an additional $75 million in punitive damages. 

But, it remains unclear how Giuliani could pay such a sum. On the first day of the trial, his attorney told jurors that accepting plaintiffs’ request would mark “the end of Mr. Giuliani” and be the “civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

Inside the courtroom, Giuliani wrote down each of the five numbers that made up the total damages amount on his tablet but showed little expression 

Moss nodded and smiled as the verdict was read. Both she and Freeman became emotional, hugging their lawyers afterward.

Moss told reporters after the verdict that she and Freeman’s “greatest wish” is that no one — “no election worker, or voter, or school board member or anyone else” — has to experience what the two women have since Giuliani’s false claims were made.

“We hope no one ever has to fight so hard just to get your name back,” Moss said, visibly shaking.

Following the 2020 election, Giuliani led former President Trump’s unsuccessful legal efforts seeking to overturn President Biden’s victory. Through press conferences, legislative hearings, media interviews and other statements, Giuliani made Freeman and Moss a focal point of his fraud allegations.

Leaving the courthouse, Giuliani doubled down on his claims of election fraud.

“The absurdity of the number really underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding,” Giuliani told reporters.

Much of the accusations revolved around a video of the duo working in State Farm Arena in Atlanta counting ballots. Giuliani claimed in December 2020 that the footage showed the workers pulling suitcases stuffed with ballots from under a table.

Freeman and Moss’s lawyers centered their case on the notion that their clients had lost their names and were forced to live their daily lives in secret. The two women sued Giuliani on claims of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage.”

Both Freeman and Moss took the stand during the trial, struggling at times to hold back tears.

“Dec. 4, 2020, was the last day I was this outgoing, happy, bubbly Shaye. That was the day that everything in my life changed; everything just flipped upside down,” Moss testified.

“What is my name today?” Freeman said.

“Who am I today? What name am I gonna use? “I can’t say who I am,” she continued.

Joseph Sibley, Giuliani’s attorney, throughout the trial looked to show sympathy with the two workers while attempting to convince jurors that Giuliani should not be forced to pay huge sums for threats levied by other people.

“I have no doubt that Mr. Giuiani’s statements caused harm; no question about it,” Sibley said in his closing remarks. “But just because these things happened, it doesn’t make my client responsible for them.”

Sibley did not cross-examine Freeman but did ask questions to Moss, in particular questioning whether her diagnoses of major depressive disorder and acute stress disorder could really be linked to his client. Giuliani also opted against taking the stand after indicating for days that he would testify.

“We feel like these women have been through enough,” Sibley explained in his closing statement.

“You have to send a message to the country with this verdict that we don’t have blue-state and red-state America when it comes to justice. Justice isn’t red or blue,” Sibley said.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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