Bankruptcy Won't Shield Giuliani from $148M Verdict, Experts Say

Giuliani Faces Monumental Financial Judgment in Defamation Case

by Zain ul Abedin
Bankruptcy Won't Shield Giuliani from $148M Verdict, Experts Say
© Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

In a landmark decision that underscores the weight of words in American politics, a federal jury in Washington delivered a staggering blow to Rudy Giuliani, former lawyer to President Trump, by ordering him to pay nearly $150 million in damages for defaming two Georgia election workers.

The verdict, a profound statement on the consequences of baseless accusations, comes as a significant moment in the ongoing discourse surrounding the 2020 presidential election. Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, who served as election workers in Fulton County during the last presidential election, filed the lawsuit against Giuliani.

They accused him of falsely claiming their involvement in a fraudulent ballot processing scheme, allegations that led to intense public scrutiny and personal harassment. In a detailed judgment, the jury awarded $148 million in damages, a combination of punitive and compensatory amounts, as well as significant sums for the emotional distress suffered by Freeman and Moss.

The case, which attracted national attention, highlighted the human cost of political misinformation. Both Freeman and Moss recounted harrowing experiences of racism and threats triggered by Giuliani's accusations. Their testimony painted a vivid picture of the turmoil inflicted upon their lives, with Moss expressing a deep fear for her and her family's safety.

Bankruptcy No Escape for Giuliani

Giuliani's defense, meanwhile, pointed to his financial situation, suggesting that such a hefty penalty would be crippling. However, legal experts have noted that Giuliani's path to financial relief through bankruptcy might be obstructed.

Barb McQuade, a law professor and former U.S. Attorney, explained that defamation, being an intentional act, is not easily escapable through bankruptcy. The ruling adds another layer to Giuliani's multifaceted legal and financial challenges.

Legal commentators, including former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, emphasized the difficulty Giuliani faces in avoiding this debt, given the nature of the judgment. The legal framework in the United States is clear: bankruptcy does not shield individuals from damages awarded for intentional harm.

Challenges in Judgment Collection

This case also sheds light on the complexities of post-judgment proceedings. Collecting the awarded sum promises to be a demanding process, with Giuliani's assets and financial resources likely to come under intense scrutiny.

Atlanta defense attorney Andrew Fleischman underscored the challenges ahead, pointing out Giuliani's past reluctance to disclose financial information. The verdict, described as "nondischargeable" in a bankruptcy context by law professor Laurie Levenson, leaves Giuliani with limited options.

He can seek to have the judgment reduced, win an appeal, or settle with Freeman and Moss. However, the precedent set by similar cases, such as that of Alex Jones, suggests that escaping such financial obligations through bankruptcy due to intentional torts like defamation is not a straightforward path.

In conclusion, the ruling against Giuliani not only represents a significant monetary judgment but also serves as a poignant reminder of the serious implications of political rhetoric and misinformation. The case highlights the intricate balance between free speech and accountability in the American legal system, where the consequences of defamation extend far beyond the courtrooms and into the very lives of those implicated.