A Rule 11 complaint has been filed against Doug Wigdor, the lawyer representing the former private investigator for the family of Seth Rich.
The complaint comes in response to Wigdor’s filing of a lawsuit on behalf of Rod Wheeler against Fox News and Ed Butowsky, the man who had connected Wheeler to the Rich family and offered to pay for a private investigator to look into their son’s murder.
Wheeler’s lawsuit claims that reporter Malia Zimmerman had misquoted him and misrepresented his statements within her report on the Rich murder investigation. The problem is that, as Big League Politics proved with leaked text message conversations between the two, Wheeler was given a draft of the story which included his comments and explicitly approved them before Zimmerman’s Fox News report was filed.
The complaint by Butowsky asserts that Wigdor already had all the statements Wheeler made in private and on television, which debunk and contradict the claims in his lawsuit, prior to filing.
Fox News removed the story May 23 after Wheeler claimed that he was misquoted. Multiple sources have told Big League Politics that Seth Rich coverage was squashed and removed due to internal politics involving members of the Murdoch family — not because Zimmerman had not properly investigated her story.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 provides that a district court may sanction attorneys or parties who submit pleadings for an improper purpose or that contain frivolous arguments or arguments that have no evidentiary support.
In the memorandum of law in support of Butowsky’s motion for sanctions pursuant to the federal rule of civil procedure 11, which was obtained by Big League Politics, Wheeler and Wigdor are accused of filing of a frivolous complaint against Butowsky that has no basis in fact or in law, for an improper purpose.
Wheeler has also made some seriously shocking claims in his lawsuit, many of which BLP has already debunked.
The most shocking claim is that a Fox News report on the Rich case fabricated two quotes from Wheeler in order to please the White House.
In the memorandum, Butowsky argues:
Wheeler made numerous statements before and after the publication that belie his allegations of misattribution. For example, the day before publication, Wheeler spoke with a local Fox 5 DC reporter confirming that he had independent ‘sources at the FBI that there is information that could link Seth Rich to Wikileaks.’ He also confirmed that he believed ‘there is a correlation between the mayor’s office and the DNC,’ concerning the murder and the subsequent investigation. The day after the publication of Zimmerman’s article, Wheeler reported to another media outlet that he had a ‘very credible’ source confirming email communications between Seth Rich and Wikileaks which led him to conclude that there may be ‘some email communications between Seth and Wikileaks.’ He also claimed that certain DNC officials should be ‘persons of interest’ in Rich’s murder.
Indeed, attempting to dispel the fabricated conspiracy theory, Butowsky’s counsel confirmed that Butowsky had never met or done anything for the President, either directly or indirectly. In violation of Rule 11, however, Wheeler and his counsel improperly omitted these details from the Complaint to propel a deceptive narrative into the media because they recognized that the disclosure of the full facts would be immediately fatal to Wheeler’s claims.
The filing states Wigdor dangled the lawsuit for weeks before filing, threatening to sue him and others unless Fox News paid $50-60 million in settlements. One source close to the case claimed to Big League Politics that Wheeler was promised $4 million of that money if a settlement was reached.
“Wigdor has filed multiple lawsuits that piggyback off recent high profile settlements by Fox News, aggressively pursuing a very public campaign against Fox that has included press conferences with over a dozen former Fox employees. He now represents over twenty plaintiffs who have alleged sexual harassment and discrimination by Fox, plus Wheeler’s claim for defamation and racial discrimination,” the motion continues.
Butowsky’s filing bluntly asserts that “the lawsuit has no basis in fact or in law, and is clearly being advanced for an improper purpose—to harass, intimidate, and extort the Defendants.”
According to the source close to the negotiations, Wigdor told Fox News’ outside counsel from DLA Piper that he would not try any of the 22 cases and that they would all go away if the network wrote a settlement check. The source claims that Wigdor knew that the network would not be able to go through with a pending Sky News merger unless the lawsuits were cleaned up and went away.
The source also told BLP that an attorney for Fox News called Wigdor an “extortionist” during an arbitration meeting and refused to comply with the lawyer’s demands. Butowsky, nor his attorney, were invited to the meeting. Five days later, Wigdor filed the lawsuit and set off a media firestorm.
Rule 11 is rarely filed by attorneys and is generally reserved for the most egregious of cases.