A Manhattan federal judge rejected a lawsuit that was brought against Fox News by the parents of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. Seth Rich's unsolved murder became a focus for right-wing conspiracy theorists.

The New York Times reported that Judge George B. Daniels said he felt for Seth Rich's parents, but explained that they had not been personally defamed by the story. Joel and Mary Rich sued the network in March, claiming they fabricated a news story that alleged Seth Rich was conspiring with WikiLeaks. The suit alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision.

Seth Rich story ended up being retracted by Fox News

Last year, Fox News released an article that alleged Seth Rich had leaked thousands of hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks before he was shot and killed in 2016. They later retracted the story, saying it did not meet their standards. Washington D.C. police have said they believe that Rich was killed in an attempted robbery.

While the story was eventually retracted, the conspiracy theory continued to be fueled by key conservatives including Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, and right-wing radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. President Trump used Rich's death to undercut the belief that Russian operatives were responsible for the DNC leak.

Judge Daniels focused on defamation aspect of the suit

Judge Daniels also noted that Seth Rich could not be defamed by the retracted story under New York law, because he was dead. The Rich family also named Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox guest Ed Butowsky in the lawsuit. While the story was untrue, the actions of Fox News and Butowsky did not meet the legal standard of "outrageous conduct."

The judge also dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News and Mr.

Butowsky filed by private investigator Rod Wheeler, who was hired by the Rich family to look into their son's unsolved death. Wheeler claimed he was misquoted by Fox News in the story. Wheeler did not prove he was misquoted and the judge said he gave consent to the article's publication. Butowsky requested attorneys' fees and sanctions against Wheeler, but Judge Daniels denied his request.

Despite the false reporting, the news company ended up leaving the story on their website for a number of days and had guests even make reference to the conspiracy theory. Judge Daniels ended up grilling Fox News' legal team but grilled the legal team representing the Rich family even harder.