‘A victory for journalists’: Judge dismisses Avenatti’s defamation suit against Fox News

Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti became a household name based on his vehement opposition to former President Donald Trump, though he has subsequently suffered an embarrassing series of defeats in court — including criminal charges regarding his own actions.

The latest loss on his legal scorecard came this week when a federal judge dismissed a defamation suit he filed against the Fox News Channel.

“Most of its statements were substantially true”

According to The Hill, Avenatti’s suit stemmed from the cable news network’s coverage of his 2018 arrest in California on suspicion of domestic violence. He has asserted that he deserves damages based on the allegedly defamatory reports.

In an 11-page ruling on Friday, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas dismissed the claims without prejudice, meaning Avenattie could refile his case again at a later date.

The judge acknowledged that Fox News provided coverage of the arrest but found that “most of its statements were substantially true” and did not meet the definition of defamation.

“And Avenatti does not plausibly plead that Fox or its employees knew that the statements were false or recklessly disregarded that possibility,” Bibas wrote. “He also fails to allege any recoverable damages. I will thus dismiss his complaint.”

The judge went on to outline the background of Avenatti’s arrest as well as Fox News Channel’s coverage, citing several examples of statements made by hosts or in articles that were included in the defamation suit.

“He cannot overcome the truthfulness”

According to Bibas, the bulk of those statements were either opinion-based or represented minor inaccuracies related to technical details that did not detract from the overall account of the facts.

The judge noted that Fox News addressed and corrected at least some of those inaccuracies in subsequent reports. Furthermore, he found that Avenatti did not demand a retraction and damages within the time frame required under applicable California law.

“Avenatti dislikes how Fox News covered his arrest,” Bibas wrote. “But he cannot overcome the truthfulness of the gist of Fox’s coverage — he was, after all, arrested for suspected domestic violence. Plus, he has not shown that Defendants knew, or deliberately ignored, any inaccuracies in their reporting.”

According to Deadline, a Fox News Channel spokesperson released a statement touting the ruling in the network’s favor.

“We are pleased with the Court’s swift decision in favor of FOX News,” the statement asserted. “Today’s ruling is a victory for journalists everywhere, who should not be intimidated into silence when bullies like Michael Avenatti file baseless multimillion-dollar lawsuits.”

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