Release the Litigation Kraken! Rudy Giuliani Gets Chewed up by Judge in Defamation Suit

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It wasn’t long ago that Michael Avenatti and Rudy Giuliani were living large in New York City. For a precious few months, Avenatti was like cigarette butts, he was everywhere – making appearances on multiple cable stations on the same day claiming he had the goods on Trump. What he wasn’t doing was making an honest living. Soon, as they say, the walls caved in. Avenatti is no longer living large, he’s living in a tiny cell with numbers on his government-issued shirt, serving a long prison term for trying to extort money from Nike. And he will stay in prison. The 2nd District just opined that his appeal was frivolous. The panel called it “meritless.” 

At the same time that Avenatti was filing a frivolous appeal, “America’s Mayor,” Rudy Giuliani, was defending and mostly ignoring a defamation case brought by a couple of Georgia election workers. Discovery is the pretrial method of gathering information and facts. Giuliani was sued by a mother and daughter who were working as election officials in Georgia. 

Photos and videos were circulated by Giuliani, Trump, and others who reportedly claimed the pair of workers were hiding ballots. None of that was validated. For instance, one of the accusations was that the mother and daughter were sharing a “thumb drive.” It was a box of Tic-Tacs. Giuliani and dozens of others were sued, with this matter being brought in the District of Columbia. Discovery followed. Last month, Giuliani admitted that his claims were false. 

One of the most useful methods of “Discovery” is subpoenas for documents and requests for documents from parties. A letter from counsel is typically sent early in litigation telling the opposing parties to preserve all documents. Apparently, Giuliani made little effort to either preserve the documents requested or produce them. Giuliani reportedly produced some documents but just a fraction of the documents demanded of him. In a 37-page Order that followed numerous other orders for production and sanctions for failure to produce ($90,000+), Giuliani now faces a damages trial where the jury will be informed that they must assume the failure to produce was willful and was intended to hide documents. 

Most significantly, the yet-to-be-impaneled jury: 

will be instructed that they must, when determining an appropriate sum of punitive damages, infer that Giuliani is intentionally trying to hide relevant discovery about his financial assets.

In short, Giuliani faces a damages trial and the jury must assume the worst about Giuliani and assume that he has unlimited wealth. The damages awarded will be ugly. Giuliani (if he hasn’t lost every dime he ever made) will likely lose everything to these two Georgia election workers. 

The trial judge handling this case said in the Order: 

The fact that Giuliani is a sophisticated litigant with a self-professed 50 years of experience in litigation—including serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York—only underscores his lackluster preservation efforts.

The plaintiffs said: 

What we went through after the 2020 election was a living nightmare. Rudy Giuliani helped unleash a wave of hatred and threats we never could have imagined. It cost us our sense of security and our freedom to go about our lives. Nothing can restore all we lost, but today’s ruling is yet another neutral finding that has confirmed what we have known all along: that there was never any truth to any of the accusations about us and that we did nothing wrong.

Reading the ruling, it is abundantly clear that Giuliani only offered one excuse for not producing documents. He claimed that the FBI had all of his documents and that the devices that were seized had been “wiped.” However, Giuliani admitted that he knew what his obligations were to preserve documents, and the data was saved on a third-party server. In the end, it appears Giuliani produced very few documents that were responsive. The judge, apparently completely dissatisfied with Mr. Giuliani’s production efforts and in-court responses, sanctioned Giuliani not just with a money sanction but “evidence” sanctions. Giuliani will not be able to defend against punitive jury instructions, and the punitive damage award almost certainly to follow will be painful.

Politico reported:

Ted Goodman, a political adviser to Giuliani, said in a statement that Howell’s decision was “a prime example of the weaponization of our justice system, where the process is the punishment.” Goodman added that Giuliani was “wrongly accused” of failing to preserve his own records and that he wanted Howell’s decision to be reversed.

If Giuliani “appeals,” he will almost certainly get the same result that Avenatti got. 

Rudy is about to be eaten by the litigation Kraken. 

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