Former Fox News guest-booking chief and event planner Laurie Luhn—who left the right-leaning cable channel in 2010 and signed a reported $3.15-million settlement agreement to keep quiet about her decades of sexual and psychological abuse by the late Roger Ailes—says the outlet’s high-powered law firm, Jones Day, is trying to intimidate her.
Several prominent attorneys contacted by The Daily Beast agreed that Jones Day was possibly engaging in “bullying,” or “improper” and potentially “unethical” conduct when it sent a male process server to Luhn’s Los Angeles home on the night of Tuesday, Jan. 26.
It was the day after Luhn, 60, was deposed in former Fox Nation anchor Britt McHenry’s sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against the network and McHenry’s former co-host and alleged harasser George Murdoch, aka former pro wrestler Tyrus. The process server—who rang her buzzer but didn’t identify himself, a still-rattled Luhn told The Daily Beast—delivered court documents that the law firm had already emailed to her lawyer, conservative activist Larry Klayman.
The emotionally fragile Luhn—suffering from a stress-induced body rash and chest pains, she said—testified in a three-hour deposition about her 14-year ordeal at Fox News, including her four suicide attempts and how Ailes lieutenants Bill Shine and Suzanne Scott allegedly enabled and covered up his misconduct. Both Shine and Scott have denied complicity in, or knowledge of, Ailes’ misconduct.
“In my deposition, I spoke about horrific encounters with both Roger and his inner circle that has resulted in unimaginable pain that I suffer from every single day,” Luhn said in an email this week, “and they are still terrorizing me and attacking me. Coming to my house last Tuesday in the darkness of night? Beyond outrageous, but consistent with the Roger Ailes Playbook. I suffer from ONGOING trauma, and physical pain…not PTSD.”
Describing her sworn testimony, Luhn added: “One of the mantras Roger would use while he was sexually abusing me, was to have me repeat whatever words he said—WITHOUT HESITATION—‘Laurie—you love getting gang raped—don’t you?’ He said it to me for so many years. I was expected to give all of my answers in the affirmative. He wanted my voice on tape saying horrendous things. He always called the photographs and videos: ‘his insurance policy that YOU—Laurie will stay loyal to me.’ He repeatedly told me that he was my only friend. He told me that I had NO friends. He told me to ‘TRUST ONLY ROGER.’…
“Roger endangered my life. Post 9-11, I was expected to meet him at a hotel in Times Square, where he was waiting with a woman—and he told me to put on a [lesbian] show,” Luhn continued. “I had to get up from my desk at Fox News in the middle of my booking work and be seen meeting him. I still cannot believe what he put me through. The abuse escalated after the 9-11 attacks. It is still so difficult to grasp—since he was such a huge paranoid about the terrorists—always saying they were targeting him.
“The terrifying obsession with ME that this man had—that he brazenly forced and shoved me onto another woman in a hotel room –while he filmed videos still takes my breath away. It happened on at least 5 occasions. ZERO regard for me or the emotional toll it was taking on me and the hit my reputation had taken. I have tried to forget. I get sick thinking about it.”
During the Jan. 25 deposition at a Beverly Hills law office, Luhn had brandished the $3.15-million settlement agreement containing Ailes’ signature; among documents delivered to Luhn by the process server—an action she said “terrified me”—was Fox News’ motion to quash McHenry’s subpoena for Luhn’s settlement agreement. Luhn’s attorney, Klayman, provided copies of the process service documents to The Daily Beast.
In a phone interview, Luhn recounted: “They buzzed and didn’t say who they were or where they were from, just that ‘I have something for you,’ and it was pitch-black and cold outside. So I went out there, it was totally dark around the house, and there was a pickup truck parked at the sidewalk with a guy sitting inside and watching. It was creepy.”
Under the man’s watchful eye, Luhn said, she retrieved a thick envelope left atop her wooden gate. “I had no idea what it was, and I was scared.” Luhn quickly realized, however, that Fox News’ law firm, Jones Day, had dispatched the man to deliver a stash of papers concerning Fox’s motion to quash McHenry’s subpoena.
“That’s definitely intimidation—and it might be unethical,” said labor and civil rights lawyer Nancy Erika Smith, who represented Gretchen Carlson in her 2016 lawsuit against Ailes, as well as Diana Falzone, a co-author of this story, in her 2018 gender discrimination and disability suit against Fox News, where she worked as a reporter from 2012 until 2018. “You can’t ‘communicate’ with someone you know is represented, even by using an agent.”
Smith, who is not involved in Luhn’s case, added: “Bullying Luhn is something Fox and [Rupert] Murdoch and Ailes have done for decades. Bill Shine, Suzanne Scott and [former Fox News general counsel] Dianne Brandi too. They broke her.”
Legal ethics expert Stephen Gillers, a New York University Law School professor, told The Daily Beast that siccing the process server on Luhn “could be seen as such [bullying], or more likely it was meant to make sure she was on notice, especially if the documents contained any kind of restraining notice or warning.”
Jones Day partner Kristina A. Yost, who participated in the Jan. 25 deposition on behalf of defendant Fox News, didn’t respond to text and voicemail messages seeking comment. Fox News likewise declined to comment.
Klayman, meanwhile, shared his Wednesday morning email exchange with Jones Day partner Anthony J. Dick concerning the process server incident. In his email to Klayman, Dick argues that Klayman was not eligible to act officially as Luhn’s attorney, or to receive court documents on her behalf, because of a suspension ordered on Jan. 7 by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Klayman, however, noted that under the disciplinary rules of the D.C. Bar, the suspension—involving a different case, which he’s disputing—is subject to a 30-day grace period before it goes into effect. Nor, Klayman argues, does such a suspension apply to his practice of law in federal court, the venue for the McHenry lawsuit.
“Based on that understanding,” Dick wrote to Klayman, “we believe that your continued representation of a client in the D.C. Circuit is a violation of the rules against the unauthorized practice of law.” Dick added: “As you know, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5 prohibits the unauthorized practice of law within the District of Columbia following a lawyer’s suspension….Rule 8.3 requires us to ‘inform the appropriate professional authority’ if we are aware of a violation”—which Klayman interpreted as a threat.
He fired back: “This does not apply to federal court which must decide on reciprocal discipline if the temporary suspension becomes final. The federal court is not a District of Columbia court.
“Thus filing what you suggest with the DC Circuit to prejudice Ms. Luhn at this time would be an ethical violation on your part for which you will be held to account. Couple this with the harassment of Ms. Luhn by sending an unidentified process server to her home in the dead of night--vindictively and maliciously harming her more emotionally--in retaliation over her sworn testimony in the McHenry sexual harassment case, [implicates] your clients in a pattern and practice of sexual abuse, cover-up and defamation—harm compounded by her four prior suicide attempts which you and your clients caused…Govern yourselves accordingly.”
Dick didn’t respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.