Fox Corp must face Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit


A man guards a side door of the News Corporation building, after it was announced that Rupert Murdoch would step down as chairman of News Corp and Fox in favor of his son Lachlan Murdoch, in New York, September 21, 2023.

Bing Guan | Reuters

Fox Company Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit must face a New York judge’s ruling on Wednesday, denying a motion to dismiss the defamation claims against Fox News’ parent company.

But Smartmatic must also confront Fox’s counterclaim that its broad defamation claims are intended to suppress free speech, the judge ruled in a separate order.

Both — and a win for each side — continue the long and expensive legal battle between Smartmatic, a voting company accused of election fraud despite being used by only one US district in 2020, and Fox News and Corp, which said they covered newsworthy events and individuals. surrounding the 2020 elections.

Smartmatic sued Fox and some of its hosts and guests in 2021; This case is one of at least eleven Ongoing lawsuits over election conspiracy Theories.

Fox’s lawyers had asked the court to dismiss the claims against Fox Corp, arguing that the parent company — led at the time by CEOs Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch — was not legally responsible for Fox News’ coverage.

New York County Supreme Court Justice David Cohen disagreed, denying the motion in a ruling on Wednesday, writing that “plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged in their amended complaint that Company employees played a positive role in spreading the defamation in question.”

Cohen also noted that the plaintiffs “sufficiently alleged that the company’s employees acted maliciously by knowingly and intentionally spreading false stories about Plaintiffs in order to benefit the company’s financial interests.”

But he also simultaneously denied Smartmatic’s motion to dismiss counterclaims made by Fox News and Fox Corp against them, with the media company arguing that Smartmatic’s claims are aimed at suppressing free speech.

“Fox’s argument here is that Plaintiffs’ alleged damages are so diluted by their actual lost profits that they have been solicited and/or sought to suppress Defendant’s free speech rights. This argument has not yet been decided in any court,” the judge wrote. .

Last year, Fox Corp. agreed to pay $787.5 million Dominion Voting Systems to settle similar, but separate, claims moments before their trial in a Delaware court.

“We will be prepared to defend this case surrounding newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. “As a report by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, divorced from reality, and on their face intended to suppress First Amendment freedoms.”

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