(Bloomberg) -- Fox News must defend a lawsuit by the parents of a Democratic Party staffer whose unsolved 2016 murder touched off a flurry of right-wing conspiracy theories, an appeals court said Friday in reinstating the case.

The parents of Seth Rich sued Fox News over what they said was a “sham” 2017 story claiming their son leaked Democratic National Committee emails in the run-up to the 2016 election. A lower-court judge in Manhattan dismissed the case last year.

The suit over the report accused Fox News of intentionally causing severe emotional distress to the parents of the 27-year-old Rich. As of last year, the Washington DC police hadn’t identified any suspects in what they believe was a botched robbery, but the killing led to accusations in conservative media that Rich -- and not Russian-backed hackers -- provided emails to WikiLeaks.

Fox News’s May 2017 story, which it later retracted, cited unidentified law-enforcement sources for such a claim.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in Federal Court in Manhattan at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

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