Federal judge dismisses Rudy Giuliani's bid for new defamation trial

A bid by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to gain a new trial after being slapped with a $148 million civil defamation judgment in December was turned aside by a federal judge on Monday. File Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI

April 15 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Monday tossed out a motion by former Donald Trump campaign official Rudy Giuliani seeking to have a $148 million defamation judgment against him dismissed.

Calling the former New York mayor's arguments for the proposal for a new trial "threadbare," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell instead ruled decisively in favor of former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, who were awarded the sum by a federal jury in December.

"Giuliani's renewed motion urging this court to reverse its prior findings and rulings and to override the jury's considered verdict on the basis of five threadbare arguments falls well short of persuading that 'the evidence and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom are so one-sided that reasonable men and women could not have reached a verdict in [plaintiffs'] favor," Howell wrote in her ruling.

Freeman and Moss, who are mother and daughter, originally sought at least $24 million each for Giuliani's defamatory statements accusing them of helping steal the 2020 presidential election from Trump. They claimed his statements exposed them to a torrent of threats and harassment.

Giuliani acknowledged defaming Freeman and Moss with malice in the case's final judgment but blasted the amount of the penalty as "absurd" and vowed to appeal.

Days later he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In her ruling Monday, Howell dismissed his arguments for a new trial, including assertions the jury's awarding of $20 million each for emotional harm suffered by Freeman and Moss was based on a lack of "competent evidence'" since there was no expert testimony as to how much of their distress was caused by Giuliani "as opposed to other sources that pre-dated Giuliani's alleged conduct."

"This contention falls flat, given the well-settled law in this circuit that a plaintiff's testimony, standing alone, may support a claim for damages for emotional distress, where, as here, no proof of physical harm is required," the judge wrote.

The plaintiffs, she said, gave "credible and detailed testimony" about the "mental pain and suffering, fear, inconvenience, nervousness, indignity, insult, humiliation, or embarrassment ... [they] suffered because of Mr. Giuliani and his co-conspirators."

Giuliani also is facing criminal charges in a case brought by Georgia prosecutors for his alleged role in seeking to overturn the results of the state's 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.