August 30, 2023

A Willkie pro bono team led by partners Michael Gottlieb and Meryl Governski, along with co-counsel at Protect Democracy and Dubose Miller LLC, won a landmark victory today against Rudy Giuliani in a federal defamation suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Fulton County Georgia election workers Wandrea ArShaye (Shaye) Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman.

In an August 30 opinion, Judge Howell granted Willkie’s motion for sanctions for Mr. Giuliani’s “willful discovery misconduct” and ordered the most drastic sanction: default judgment on all claims—defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy—stemming from statements he made about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss to intentionally undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Willkie, along with co-counsel, filed the lawsuit in December 2021, and has devoted thousands of hours to litigating the matter, including filing more than 20 discovery-related motions.  The order leaves outstanding only the amount of damages Mr. Giuliani owes, including in the form of punitive damages, which will be determined at a trial in the coming months.  

Today’s decision comes after nearly two years of litigation.  The ruling is a significant victory and reaffirms what the Willkie team, co-counsel, and their clients have always known to be true: that Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman honorably performed their civic duties in the 2020 presidential election in full compliance with the law and that the allegations of election fraud Rudy Giuliani made against them have been false since day one.

Partner Michael Gottlieb was interviewed on CNN, MSNBC and NPR, and partner Meryl Governski appeared on NewsNation and MSNBC, respectively, to discuss the victory. This important win was also covered by other global media organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Politico, Associated Press and more.

Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman are represented by a pro bono Willkie team that includes partners Michael Gottlieb and Meryl Governski, and associates M. Annie Houghton-Larsen, J. Tyler Knoblett, Tim Ryan, Logan Kenney, Maggie MacCurdy and Perri Haser.  Co-counsel on the case is Protect Democracy and Von DuBose of DuBose Miller.

Access Michael Gottlieb’s interviews here: CNN, MSNBC, NPR

Watch Meryl Governski’s interviews here: NewsNation, MSNBC 




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