9:01am PT by Eriq Gardner
Appeals Court Attacks "Irrelevant" Allegation Against Sean Hannity on Sexual Harassment Front
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is not impressed whatsoever with an allegation that Fox News personality Sean Hannity was the real beneficiary of a settlement agreement between 21st Century Fox and Tamara Holder, an on-air contributor at Fox News.
Francisco Cortes, a former vice president at Fox News Latino, alleged being scapegoated when the $2.5 million Holder-Fox settlement leaked to The New York Times. He brought a $48 million suit that asserted he was defamed when Holder came forward to accuse him of assault, but the action was dismissed in January when a federal judge determined that Fox's statements to the media didn't mention or sufficiently identify him.
On appeal, Cortes' attorney J.A. Sanchez-Dorta attempted to implicate Hannity's alleged involvement in what had happened. An appellate brief pointed to a non-disparagement clause in the settlement, how the deal covered "two unknown persons," and a news report that Hannity had taken out loans totaling $2.5 million.
The bizarre brief, which came after the revelation that former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen had once represented Hannity, appeared to be angling for some sort of amended complaint.
Forget about it.
A panel of judges at the Second Circuit calls the appeal "patently frivolous."
"Cortes’s rambling brief on appeal consists largely of new and irrelevant factual allegations that a prominent Fox personality was one of the redacted signatories to the Agreement," states the summary order. "These allegations were never presented to the District Court in any form, and therefore are not properly before us. Moreover, the possible identity of other interested parties to the Agreement has not the slightest bearing on the grounds on which the First Amended Complaint was dismissed: as described above, Cortes’s failure to plead plausibly that Fox’s statement to the New York Times was defamatory, that Fox disparaged him in breach of the Agreement, or that Fox fraudulently induced him to sign the Agreement."
The dismissal of Cortes' lawsuit has been affirmed. Sanchez-Dorta has been ordered to show cause within 30 days why he should not pay damages, attorney's fees, and twice Fox's allowable costs for what the appellate judges see to be "irrelevant, absurd, and/or scurrilous."
Fox has denied that Hannity was a party to the settlement agreement. Holder called the allegation "nothing short of ridiculous."