Wigdor is seeking a cease-and-desist order against a defendant in the Fox News defamation lawsuit the firm brought, and subsequently withdrew from, on behalf of former network contributor Rod Wheeler.
Partners from Wigdor claim Ed Butowsky, the Dallas financial adviser and an occasional guest to Fox cable properties, left threatening phone calls for the firm’s namesake, asking to meet in person because he believes they have “got a lot of stuff we need to work out, Doug.”
But according to Butowsky, the law firm’s move is “very malicious.”
“They made up a story, shoved it into a lawsuit when they knew it was a lie, and I want to know, face-to-face, what are they going to do to fix what they did,” he told the Law Journal.
The defamation suit in question alleges Butowsky and a producer at Fox News attributed quotes to Wheeler in a now-retracted story posted on its website about the investigation into the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich. Wheeler’s quotes suggested Rich was in touch with WikiLeaks ahead of its release of internal DNC emails, and that the investigation was being hampered by high-level Democrats.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York, Wigdor partner Jeanne Christensen said Butowsky called the firm on June 26 seeking a meeting with Douglas Wigdor, Christensen, and partner Michael Willemin. Christensen says she and Willemin reached out to Butowsky’s attorney, Spiro Harrison name attorney David Harrison, the following day, but were unable to reach him. An hour later, Wigdor received another call and voice mail from Butowsky, according to Christensen, again asking to meet with the attorneys.
“[A]nyone listening to the two voicemails [which we are providing to the Court] will immediately discern Mr. Butowsky’s threatening and menacing tone and intent,” Christensen stated, asking Daniels to order Butowsky not to contact the firm. She added that his actions belie what she said was the “frivolous” intent of the sanctions motion against the Wigdor firm.
In a response, Harrison told Daniels he has already spoken with his client to refrain from contacting the firm, and that an order is not only unnecessary “but entirely inappropriate.”
“If the admittedly benign messages caused such concern, then Ms. Christensen has other means of addressing that concern,” he wrote. “We view this filing as merely an attempt to embarrass Mr. Butowsky, nothing more.”
The lawsuit has seen a sanctions motion filed against Wigdor by Butowsky. Harrison argued in part that the Wheeler litigation was waged to gain leverage in a series of workplace harassment lawsuits filed against Fox by Wigdor.
Harrison addressed the sanctions issue in his response to the Wigdor firm’s motion for a cease-and-desist order. He said Butowsky’s actions have no relevance to the issues in the lawsuit, and the Wigdor firm’s move to withdraw as Wheeler’s counsel with a motion to dismiss pending backs up his theory that the defamation case was part of a strategy to force Fox to settle its other matters.
The Wigdor firm ended its representation of Wheeler, filing on May 14 its motion to withdraw as Wheeler’s counsel.
A day later the New York Times reported that the firm secured a separate set of settlements with Fox News over workplace harassment claims with nearly 20 employees.
Wigdor and Harrison each declined to comment for this article.