A former Fox News guest who sued the network and personalities Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz, as well as former Fox host Ed Henry, has lost her federal lawsuit — for good, this time.
In July 2020, Cathy Areu was one of two women who filed a federal lawsuit against Fox News prefaced by a “TRIGGER WARNING” in blaring red, boldface text that it contained “Highly Graphic Information of a Sexual Nature, Including Sexual Assault.”
The lead plaintiff, ex-associate producer Jennifer Eckhart, saw her allegations advance to discovery in September, including one accusing Henry of sex trafficking her.
“To be sure, this is not a conventional claim of sex trafficking,” U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams wrote on Sept. 9, in a 52-page opinion and order. “Eckhart has not alleged, for example, that Henry forced her into prostitution or sexual slavery.”
Though multiple claims leveled by Eckhart advanced, Areu’s allegations were dismissed, and Judge Abrams found that she failed to “state a claim for discrimination or retaliation under any of the applicable laws.” (Law&Crime founder Dan Abrams is the judge’s brother.)
Areu’s lawyer James Vagnini told Law&Crime at the time noted that the judge gave his client a chance to refile the complaint.
“We are disappointed with the decision, but also appreciate the court’s determination that the facts asserted by Ms. Areu against Fox and the individual defendants are not frivolous,” Vagnini wrote months ago. “Given the technical basis for the dismissal, we are taking the time to review Ms. Areu’s opportunity to amend the complaint, as the court suggested.”
Two sets of deadlines passed since that time. Citing a change of counsel, Areu requested and obtained an extension from the original Sept. 30 deadline. Then, the new deadline of Oct. 14 came and went without a refiled complaint.
“Accordingly, this case is dismissed, with prejudice,” Monday’s ruling states.
Shortly after the filing of Areu’s complaint, Law&Crime’s sister site Mediaite poked apparent holes in the ex-guest’s case.
In the lawsuit, Areu claimed to have been a “relatively regular” guest on Hannity’s primetime show until March 8, 2018.
“On that day, Mr. Hannity, on set and in front of the entire studio crew – and completely unsolicited – threw $100 on the set desk,” the suit alleged. “He then began calling out to the men in the room and demanding that someone take Ms. Areu out on a date for drinks at Del Friscos. He repeatedly yelled, ‘who wants to take her on a date?’ ‘Take her on a date to Del Friscos.’”
Areu had claimed the incident left her “completely mortified.”
Mediaite reported that Fox News provided emails appearing to show that the male friend Areu referred came to the set that evening at Areu’s invitation.
“Is it ok for me to bring a guest?” Areu apparently wrote in an email to a staffer earlier that day, referring to the guest as “Alex,” according to Mediaite.
Fox News said that Hannity offered Areu and her friend $100 to get drinks next door at the elite steakhouse Del Frisco’s after the appearance. The network hired an outside firm to investigate Areu’s allegations.
According to Mediaite, Areu then sent two emails thanking Hannity and his staff: The first, sent at 10:37 p.m., said: “Thanks so much for having me on. Way too much fun.”
She reportedly sent another at 6:34 a.m. the following morning with a photograph of martini she said she bought at Del Frisco’s.
Note: this story has been updated to clarify that Cathy Areu was a Fox News guest.
(Screengrab via Fox News)
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