Monday, April 15, 2024

Rudy Gets Rejected

The United States District Court of the District of Columbia has denied post-trial motions of the defendant in Freeman v. Giuliani

Upon consideration of defendant Rudolph W. Giuliani’s Renewed Motion for Judgment As a Matter of Law, or in the alternative, for a New Trial and/or to Alter or Amend the Final Judgment, ECF No. 147, the memoranda submitted in  support and opposition thereto, and the entire record herein, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is hereby:

ORDERED that defendant’s Renewed Motion for Judgment As a Matter of Law, or in the alternative, for a New Trial and/or to Alter or Amend the Final Judgment, ECF No. 147, is

DENIED.

The opinion is linked here

A unanimous jury awarded plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, on December 15, 2023, a total of $148,169,000.00, in compensatory and punitive damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, against defendant Rudolph W. Giuliani. Verdict Form, ECF No. 135. This jury award was followed, in rapid succession, three days later, by entry of the final judgment against Giuliani, see Freeman v. Giuliani, No. 21-cv3354 (BAH), 2023 WL 9783148 (D.D.C. Dec. 18, 2023) (“Final Judgment”), and two days after that, by this Court’s order dissolving the 30-day automatic stay for enforcement of judgment to permit plaintiffs to register their judgment immediately in any district, see Mem. and Order at 12–13, ECF No. 144 (“Enforcement of Judgment Decision”). The very next day, on December 21, 2023, Giuliani filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the Southern District of New York, which filing automatically halted all proceedings in this case, including plaintiffs’ right to exercise the authority granted by this Court to seek prompt enforcement of the judgment against Giuliani. See Chapter 11 Pet., In re Rudolph W. Giuliani, No. 23-12055 (SHL), ECF No. 1 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2023).

Despite the utter failure of Giuliani to comply with his discovery obligations and related orders in this lawsuit or to pay a dime in the attorney’s fees imposed for his discovery abuses—after multiple opportunities were extended for him to do so, over the course of months, leading, ultimately, to entry of default judgment against him on liability on plaintiff’s well-pleaded claims, see Freeman v. Giuliani, No. 21-cv-3354 (BAH), 2023 WL 5600316, at *26 (D.D.C. Aug. 30, 2023) (“Default Judgment Decision”); Default Judgment Order, ECF No. 93—the Bankruptcy Court granted Giuliani’s request to lift the bankruptcy stay to permit him to “file and litigate . . . a post-trial motion (or motions)” and “file a notice of appeal from the Freeman Judgment,” so long as that court is assured, somehow, that the funds expended on continued litigation in this case “shall not be paid by . . . the Debtor or his estate,” Order ¶¶ 2, 6, In re Rudolph W. Giuliani, No. 23-12055 (SHL), ECF No. 124 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Feb. 20, 2024) (“Bankruptcy Modifying Stay Order”). With the automatic bankruptcy stay lifted for Giuliani’s benefit to continue litigating in this case, he now renews his motion made at trial for judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b), or alternatively, for “a new trial and/or to alter or amend the Final Judgment,” pursuant to Federal Rule 59. Def.’s Renewed Mot. JMOL at 1 & n.1 (“Def.’s Mot.”), ECF No. 147.

Giuliani urges this Court to reverse prior findings and rulings and override the jury’s considered verdict based on five cursory arguments made in a brief eight pages: (1) that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim, “incorporat[ing] by reference his arguments in his Motion to Dismiss [] and reargu[ing] them as to the statements specifically identified in the Complaint,” Def.’s Mot. at 4 (citation omitted); (2) that the “unpleaded conduct” on which plaintiffs were permitted to prove damages “suffers from the same defects as the pleaded conduct” and “fails to adequately plead the claims for relief and/or were improperly presented to the jury despite being outside the pleadings,” id.; (3) that the “‘emotional harm’ statements that Plaintiffs based their [intentionalinfliction of emotional distress (‘IIED’)] claims on at trial were . . . made more than one year before suit was filed,” id. at 5, and consequently, “Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the IIED claims on limitations grounds,” id.; (4) that any IIED damages were based on a lack of “competent evidence” because there was no expert testimony “as to how much of their emotional harm was caused by Giuliani as opposed to other sources that pre-dated Giuliani’s alleged conduct,” id. at 5–6 (capitalization omitted) (citing Halcomb v. Woods, 610 F. Supp. 2d 77, 86 (D.D.C. 2009)), and (5) that the “testimony and documents” of two plaintiffs’ witnesses, Regina Scott and Dr. Ashlee Humphreys, “should have been stricken” with an instruction to “the jury to disregard it,” id. at 7.

These arguments are foreclosed by the law of the case doctrine based on this Court’s Default Judgment Decision imposing liability on Giuliani for plaintiffs’ claims as a discovery sanction—and Giuliani provides no basis to exempt him from application of that doctrine here—and otherwise fail on the merits.

Off to appeal. (Mike Frisch)

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