Rudolph W. Giuliani, former New York mayor and attorney for Donald J. Trump, has been ordered by a jury to pay $148 million to two former Georgia election workers. The workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss claimed that Giuliani had defamed them by spreading lies about their involvement in stealing the 2020 election from Trump.
Judge Beryl A. Howell had earlier determined that Giuliani had defamed Freeman and Moss, leaving it to the jury to decide the damages. The jury granted $75 million in punitive damages to the two women and mandated Giuliani to pay compensatory damages of $16.2 million to Freeman and $16.9 million to Moss. In addition, the jury awarded each of them $20 million for emotional distress.
While Freeman expressed relief at the jury’s decision, she acknowledged that no amount of money could fully restore what she and her daughter had lost due to the abuse they endured as a result of Giuliani’s false accusations.
In response to the verdict, Giuliani remained defiant, stating that he did not regret anything and would appeal the decision. He refused to take responsibility for the attacks and threats the women faced from Trump supporters, calling them “abominable” and “deplorable.”
Giuliani’s lawyer argued that his client should not be held responsible for the abuse directed towards Freeman and Moss by others. He warned that the damages being sought by the women would be equivalent to a civil death penalty for Giuliani. The former mayor, whose net worth remains unknown as he refused to disclose it, will likely file for bankruptcy protection. However, bankruptcy would not absolve him of his liability for the intentional tort he committed against Freeman and Moss.
This legal case is part of a series where defamation accusations are utilized to hold individuals accountable for spreading misinformation about the 2020 election. For example, Dominion Voting Systems secured a $787.5 million settlement from Fox News for promoting inaccuracies regarding their voting machines. In a different case, a judge in Atlanta allowed a Georgia man to pursue defamation claims against right-wing author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
During the trial, Freeman and Moss testified about Giuliani’s false claims’ devastating impact on their lives. They received threats, racist attacks, and were subjected to harassment. Their testimonies highlighted the profound consequences of Giuliani’s actions, which were triggered by a single tweet suggesting election fraud.
Giuliani did not testify in court, fearing contempt charges or imprisonment. He is currently under indictment in Georgia, where he faces racketeering charges along with Trump and others for their attempts to overturn the election results.
Lawyers representing Freeman and Moss called on the jury to send a message with their verdict, emphasizing the need to hold influential figures accountable for assassinating the moral character of ordinary people.
Freeman and Moss expressed their determination to continue fighting for justice, hoping that no one else would endure the same ordeal they experienced as election workers.