Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy after $148M defamation judgment

The former mayor says he owes more than $151 million to various creditors.

December 21, 2023, 1:58 PM

A week after losing a $148 million defamation case, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a New York court, according to a court filing.

Giuliani listed his net worth between $1 million and $10 million, but claims he owes more than $151 million to various creditors, according to his bankruptcy petition.

"The filing should be a surprise to no one," Ted Goodman, a political adviser to Giuliani, said in a statement.

A federal jury last week, following a week-long trial, ordered Giuliani to pay $148 million to former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss for defaming them with false accusations that they committed election fraud while counting ballots in Georgia's Fulton County on Election Day in 2020.

In addition to last week's $148 million judgment, Giuliani listed potential liabilities related to lawsuits he faces from President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden and from voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion.

Giuliani also owes more than $989,000 to New York State and the IRS for outstanding taxes in 2021 and 2022, according to his petition, as well as owing $3.7 million to multiple law firms.

The former mayor's decision to pursue bankruptcy protection temporarily stalls the effort to collect his $148 million defamation judgment, according to Georgetown Law School professor Adam Levitin.

Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Washington, Dec. 15, 2023.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

"Filing the bankruptcy automatically stays all collection efforts against him in the defamation suit," Levitin said. "That gives Giuliani either time to appeal or to negotiate a settlement with the women he defamed."

"No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount," Goodman said regarding the $148 million defamation award. "Chapter 11 will afford Mayor Giuliani the opportunity and time to pursue an appeal, while providing transparency for his finances under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, to ensure all creditors are treated equally and fairly throughout the process."

The judge overseeing the defamation case on Wednesday granted a request from Freeman and Moss to expedite their $148 million judgment against Giuliani, saying that the mother and daughter have "good cause" to fear Giuliani may attempt to avoid paying them.

The judge said that other civil cases filed against Giuliani "raise the risk that Giuliani has even greater motivation to hide his financial assets from potential future judgments against him."

In exchange for the financial protection, Giuliani's finances will likely be scrutinized by authorities and he will have to declare all of his assets and liabilities under the penalty of perjury.