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New York judge denies Daily Beast motion to dismiss former Gawker editor's defamation lawsuit

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A New York judge has denied a motion by The Daily Beast to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed last year by former Gawker editorial editor Carson Griffith.

Griffith, who was hired in 2018 as part of Gawker’s relaunch, alleges that a January 2019 report by the Daily Beast resulted in her losing her job after staffers turned on her. She also claims it has been difficult to continue her media career because the story quickly turns up when her name is searched online. 

“This Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled a cause of action for defamation,” Justice Phillip Hom wrote in Wednesday’s ruling. “In accordance with the foregoing, the motion is denied in all respects. Defendants shall serve and file their answer within 30 days from today.” 

“There is no question that what The Daily Beast chose to do to me two years ago changed the trajectory of my life,” Griffith said in a statement Thursday. “I am really appreciative for the continuous support of my friends, family, and legal team. And I am grateful to the New York Supreme Court, for recognizing the validity of my defamation case against The Daily Beast. I am more than ready for the discovery process to begin.”

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“This was an easy decision, as the judge’s short opinion made clear,” said Griffth’s attorney Ronald Coleman. “Forcing an unemployed private individual to spend money on a meritless motion after getting her fired for no reason is peak Daily Beast. But we’re looking forward to discovery.” 

The Daily Beast did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The lawsuit, which was first reported last year by the New York Post, names The Daily Beast, editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman and reporter Maxwell Tani as defendants.

Griffith’s complaint alleges Tani never asked Griffith for comment and claimed the “primary source for this article was his close friend and former colleague” Maya Kosoff.

According to the article, Kosoff and one other reporter decided to leave Gawker when management refused to fire Griffith after the pair informed human resources they “felt personally uncomfortable working” under her after she made “offensive” workplace statements.

“Tani did not report these statements in good faith and acted with actual malice, due to only reporting partial sections of Slack conversations and email exchanges that benefited Ms. Kosoff, his primary source, thus forwarding his personal agenda to make Ms. Griffith look racist, homophobic and transphobic,” the complaint said.

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Griffith said that the Beast “purposely yanked my words out of context to create an absolutely false narrative.”

The complaint detailed Griffith’s claim that Tani used selectively chosen and out-of-context emails and Slack messages to make her appear racist and homophobic. Griffith’s former employer, Gawker parent BDG Media, hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the claims that deemed the allegations to be false, according to the complaint.

The complaint also says Tani was aware that the investigation cleared Griffith’s name but “did not look into updating, changing or further investigating his defamatory article” or the “extreme claims” he made about her.

The Daily Beast’s story noted that “two reporters said they decided to leave the new Gawker after Bustle Digital Group—which bought the shuttered Gawker.com domain and its archives in a mid-2018 fire sale—refused to oust Griffith over offensive workplace comments about everything from poor people to [B]lack writers to her acquaintance’s penis size.”

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However, the complaint states: “Griffith never made comments about ‘penis size,’ ‘poor people,’ or ‘[B]lack writers’” and the Beast can’t prove otherwise. The complaint also claimed that the Beast falsely indicated that Griffith “seemed to brag to Gawker staff that she had gotten them out of a company-wide diversity training session.”

The complaint added that “Tani’s statement is defamatory, as it is made with actual malice” because the messages reviewed didn’t mention a diversity training session.

“Tani tried to purposely frame this as if Ms. Griffith is racist and negligent to diversity in the workplace,” the complaint said.

Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report. 

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