Federal Court Rejects Ex-Anchor Ed Henry’s Libel Claim Against Fox News
From an opinion by Judge Ronnie Abrams (S.D.N.Y.) yesterday in Henry v. Fox News Network LLC:
Plaintiff Edward Henry brings this lawsuit for defamation, invasion of privacy, and tortious interference against his former employer Fox News Network LLC and Fox News’ Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Scott.
Henry’s claims arise from four statements issued by Fox and Scott that reported on the circumstances of Henry’s termination. The statements indicated that, after receiving a complaint from a former employee against Henry regarding sexual misconduct, Fox retained an outside law firm to conduct an investigation and ultimately terminated Henry based on the findings of that investigation.
According to Henry, Defendants’ statements were false because he was not in fact terminated based on the findings of the investigation, but instead to further a narrative that Fox was reforming its culture and in an effort for Scott to advance her career. Moreover, because Fox had permitted other consensual affairs between employees and because he claims that his sexual activity with former Fox Business producer Jennifer Eckhart—who has accused him of sexually assaulting and raping her—was in reality consensual, Henry asserts that Defendants’ statements announcing his termination for “willful sexual misconduct” created the intentionally false impression that his conduct must have been “akin to rape.”
No, said the court (what follows is just some excerpts from a considerably longer discussion):
Each of the four statements that Henry alleges are defamatory recount the steps taken by Defendants upon receipt of Eckhart’s complaint and contain some combination of the following four factual assertions: (1) that Fox received a complaint from a former employee regarding sexual misconduct by Henry, (2) that Fox hired an outside law firm which conducted an independent investigation, (3) that Henry was suspended and then terminated (4) based on the results of the investigation…. Plaintiff has failed to plausibly allege that any of the factual assertions made in the four statements were false….
Henry insists that the assertion that he was terminated “based on investigative findings” is false because the investigation was a “sham.” There are no facts alleged, however, to support this conclusion. When pressed at argument as to which particular facts supported a finding that the
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