NEW YORK — A lawsuit brought against Fox News by the parents of a Democratic National Committee employee killed in 2016 was dismissed Thursday by a judge who said it lacked the detail necessary to proceed to trial.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels said the lawsuit brought by Seth Rich's parents required specific instances of wrongdoing by the defendants to survive.
The lawsuit claimed Fox News turned Seth's death into a "political football" by claiming he had leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks during the presidential campaign.
The network removed the story a week after it was posted, saying it was not initially subjected to its "high degree of editorial scrutiny."
Rich, 27, was killed in July 2016 in what Washington police believe was a random robbery attempt.
Daniels said it was understandable that Joel and Mary Rich "might feel that their grief and personal loss were taken advantage of, and that the tragic death of their son was exploited for political purposes."
But he said a general allegation that Fox News and one of its contributors had an agreement to collaborate against the parents wasn't enough.
Attorney Suyash Agrawal said in an email that the parents were "of course, disappointed in the trial court's decision, but they look forward to vindicating their rights on appeal."
A message seeking comment from a Fox News spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
Daniels also dismissed a related suit by a private investigator, Rod Wheeler, saying his defamation claims against Fox News were based on five statements that cannot be proven false.
Wheeler had claimed that Fox put words in his mouth when it posted the WikiLeaks story.
The story quoted Wheeler as saying there had been contact between Rich and WikiLeaks. Wheeler alleged in his August lawsuit that the comments were false and were put in the story to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The judge wrote that Wheeler and Fox News "embarked on a collective effort to support a sensational claim regarding Seth Rich's murder."
He said Wheeler "cannot now seek to avoid the consequences of his own complicity and coordinated assistance in perpetuating a politically motivated story not having any basis in fact."
A message seeking comment from attorneys for Wheeler was not immediately returned.