The attorney for private investigator Rod Wheeler filed papers in Manhattan federal court on Monday asking the court remove him as Wheeler’s counsel in his lawsuit against Fox News. Wheeler is suing the network, parent company 21st Century Fox, journalist Malia Zimmerman, and Ed Butowsky, who allegedly worked with Zimmerman on a story linking murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich to WikiLeaks.
In a declaration to the court, attorney Michael J. Willemin of the law firm Wigdor LLP cited an “irrevocable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship” for his reason for wanting off the case. Willemin did not go into any further detail, but told the court that he would be willing to disclose specifics in private communications with the judge if so requested. Willemin said that any such disclosure would, of course, be limited by his ethical obligations to respect attorney-client privilege.
Wheeler’s lawsuit alleges that the Fox News story about Seth Rich falsely attributed quotes to him that linked Rich to WikiLeaks. Fox News ultimately retracted the story, claiming that it did not meet their editorial standards.
Defendants in the case have already filed motions to dismiss, but the court has yet to rule on them. Butowsky also filed a motion calling Wheeler’s lawsuit “frivolous,” and saying the court should impose sanctions on him and his attorney.
Willemin and his firm declined to comment any further on the matter. Fox News, 21st Century Fox, and Butowsky did not immediately return requests for comment.
[Image via Fox New screengrab]