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Verdicts & Settlements

D.C. Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Blaming Hillary Clinton’s Unsecured Email Server for Benghazi

— May 31, 2017

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed a lawsuit brought against Hillary Clinton over the deaths of two Americans in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed the ‘wrongful death’ portion of the lawsuit on technical grounds. The complaint levied against Clinton suggested that her lax e-mail security and misuse of private servers had caused the attack.

The suit had also accused Clinton of defaming the plaintiffs – a claim Jackson thoroughly rebuked in her ruling.

“Secretary Clinton did not refer to the plaintiffs as liars,” she wrote. “Plaintiffs may find the candidate’s statements in her own defense to be ‘unpleasant or offensive,’ but Secretary Clinton did not portray plaintiffs as ‘odious, infamous, or ridiculous … ‘ To the contrary, the statements portray plaintiffs as normal parents, grieving over the tragic loss of their loved ones.”

Patricia Smith and Charles Smith “claimed in the suit that the attack that killed their sons, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods,” was a direct consequence of Clinton’s controversial and inappropriate use of private e-mail servers to send classified correspondence.

Map showing locations of U.S. mission (main compound) and annex at the time of the 2012 Benghazi attack. Image by Cirrus Editor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.
Map showing locations of U.S. mission (main compound) and annex at the time of the 2012 Benghazi attack. Image by Cirrus Editor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.

“As a direct result of Defendant Clinton’s reckless handling of this classified, sensitive information, Islamic terrorists were able to obtain the whereabouts of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and thus the U.S. State Department and covert and other government operations in Benghazi, Libya and subsequently orchestrate, plan, and execute the now infamous September 11, 2012 attack,” the suit claims.

Smith, who is referred to by The Hill as a ‘vocal supporter of GOP candidate Donald Trump,’ said at the Republican National Convention in July that she blames “Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

While possible negligence to the security of the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi has been a popular criticism of Clinton, there is no evidence that her use of a private email server contributed in any way to the terror attack which left Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans dead.

The technicality which allowed Jackson to dismiss the lawsuit was that any emails Clinton may have sent over her server were ‘within the scope of her position as secretary of state.’

“The court finds that Secretary Clinton was acting in the scope of her employment when she transmitted the emails that are alleged to give rise to her liability,” Jackson wrote in her Friday ruling. “The untimely death of plaintiffs’ sons is tragic, and the Court does not mean to minimize the unspeakable loss that plaintiffs have suffered in any way. But when one applies the appropriate legal standards, it is clear that plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to rebut the presumption that Secretary Clinton was acting in her official capacity when she used her private email server.

“Her actions – communicating with other State Department personnel and advisors about the official business of the department – fall squarely within the scope of her duty to run the department and conduct the foreign affairs of the nation as Secretary of State,” Jackson wrote.


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