Giuliani was ordered to pay $148 million. What happens now?


A federal jury in Washington last week ordered Rudolph W. Giuliani to pay $148 million in damages to two former Georgia election workers whom he defamed by spreading unfounded claims that they tried to steal votes from Donald J. Trump on the 3rd. November 2020.

Giuliani, who faces a litany of legal and financial problems, has said he will appeal the verdict.

This is what happens next:

The jury awarded the two former poll workers, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, who are black, $148 million. That was after they gave hours of emotional testimony describing the incessant threats and attacks they received, including from people who said they should be hanged for treason or lynched. The total included a combined $75 million in punitive damages; compensatory damages of $16.2 million to Ms. Freeman and $16.9 million to Ms. Moss; and 20 million dollars to each of them for emotional suffering.

Before Freeman and Moss can collect money, Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington must rule on the amount Giuliani must pay. In civil cases like this, the judge can change the amount determined by the jury.

Once Judge Howell rules on the amount, Mr. Giuliani will be able to appeal the decision.

“Defense attorneys can drag out these cases for quite considerable periods of time before payments actually have to be made,” said Robert L. Rabin, a Stanford Law School professor with expertise in torts and compensation.

If Giuliani appeals the verdict, Freeman and Moss could ask the judge to force him to post bail to secure some of his assets pending an appeal, said Christopher M. Mattei, a lawyer who represented Sandy Hook. families in their defamation case against Infowars founder Alex Jones.

Women can also request a special procedure to find ways to collect the judgment, such as garnishing their wages. Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, is currently unable to work as a lawyer due to disciplinary actions against him.

Giuliani refused to comply with the court's requirement to disclose financial documents showing his net worth, including how much money he makes from media endeavors like his podcast.

And at any moment, Giuliani, Freeman and Moss could reach a deal.

After Friday's verdict, Giuliani was likely to file for bankruptcy, according to a lawyer familiar with his legal situation.

The damages he owes Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are considered an “intentional tort,” meaning Mr. Giuliani was aware of what he was doing when he defamed the women by spreading baseless lies about electoral fraud, and bankruptcy would not erase his responsibility. .

“It may be that Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss can chase Rudy Giuliani to his grave to recover every penny they can from his pockets,” Barbara L. McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said recently on MSNBC. Ms. McQuade was United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2010 to 2017.

If Giuliani, 79, dies before Freeman and Moss receive compensation, they could still collect compensatory and emotional damages against his estate, Rabin said.

Mr. Giuliani is charged in Georgia. A local prosecutor brought racketeering charges against him, Trump and others for their efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia.

He faces a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, one of the country's largest suppliers of voting machines. The company accused Giuliani of spreading lies about the company as part of his efforts to keep Trump in office.

Giuliani's former lawyer, Robert J. Costello, is also suing him for $1.3 million in unpaid legal fees. And a former employee, Noelle Dunphy, filed a lawsuit in May, alleging that Giuliani harassed and assaulted her in early 2019. Giuliani has denied the allegations.

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