In a blow to Fox Corp, a judge ruled Smartmatic’s case over 2020 election lies can proceed
Voting technology company Smartmatic could move forward Her defamation suit A New York judge ruled against Fox on Wednesday, dealing a blow to Fox News’ parent company, which is already fighting a massive lawsuit over its repeated airing of 2020 election falsehoods.
The decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen represents a major setback for Fox’s leadership, including the powerful Murdoch family, which will now face greater scrutiny in the lawsuit. Cohen has already allowed the case against Fox News to proceed, and on Wednesday, he denied a request from Fox to dismiss claims against its parent company.
The lawsuit was filed in the wake of the 2020 election, when Fox gave airtime frequently To the far-right figures who have promoted the outrageous and debunked claims that Smartmatic rigged the presidential election by flipping millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. They did so even though on-air announcers, top producers and executives privately acknowledged that the election was not stolen.
The judge said Smartmatic’s case was strong enough to proceed against its parent company because it “sufficiently alleged that (Fox) Corp employees acted maliciously by knowingly spreading false stories about (Smartmatic) for the benefit of (Fox) Corp.” “Financial interest.”
Cohen concluded that Smartmatic “sufficiently alleged in its amended complaint that Fox employees played a positive role in spreading the defamation in question.”
The parent company said it should not be involved in the defamation case because it only had general oversight of Fox News itself. Furthermore, Fox said there was no evidence that any of the company’s employees “ordered” the broadcast of the alleged defamatory statements.
Fox denies defaming anyone and claims the lawsuit is an assault on the First Amendment.
“We will be prepared to defend this case surrounding the newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement after the ruling. “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.”
Smartmatic sued Fox News and its parent company in 2021 for defamation and is seeking more than $2 billion in damages. A New York appeals court previously dismissed the case against Fox, but gave Smartmatic an opportunity to resubmit the allegations with more evidence. Cohen said Wednesday that the refiled claims against Fox are sufficient to move forward.
“We look forward to moving forward and holding Fox Corporation, as well as Fox News, accountable for the harm they have caused Smartmatic,” said Eric Connolly, the company’s lead attorney.
The issue is still in the discovery stage for some Major deposits conducted last month, including former Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
The decision strengthens Smartmatic’s case against the right-wing media giant. A similar 2020 lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems has also been allowed to move forward against Fox and its parent company. The case revealed troves of internal emails that described in devastating detail how top Fox officials insanely allowed Trump allies like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to lie about the election on its shows.
Fox could also pursue counterclaims against Smartmatic
Judge also on Wednesday Fox News gave the green light To continue its counterclaims against Smartmatic. The right-wing network claims that Smartmatic’s massive $2.7 billion demand for damages is a legally baseless attempt to silence the network’s free speech rights.
Fox filed counterclaims against Smartmatic last year, trying to strike back at the company and recoup the money it spends on high-paid lawyers to defend itself.
“Fox’s argument here is that Smartmatic’s alleged damages are so diluted from its actual lost profits that it has been sought and/or sought to freeze Fox’s free speech rights. This argument has not been decided,” Cohen said. Yet in any court,” clearing the way for Fox to continue its fight against the $2.7 billion figure.
Smartmatic asked Cohen to dismiss the counterclaims, on the grounds that Fox’s arguments had already been closed in the similar Dominion libel case brought by the right-wing network. It settled last yearAnd they should not be tried now.
In the Smartmatic case, Fox previously argued that the Florida-based voting company couldn’t lose billions of dollars by broadcasting election lies because it was already unprofitable and Suffering from a scandal Before someone accused the company of rigging votes against Trump.
“While recovering fees and costs will not undo all the harm done by this First Amendment lawsuit, it may at least cause the next plaintiff to think twice before trying to punish journalism to the tune of billions of dollars in illegal claims.” “Damages exists to ensure that people can hear perspectives from all sides of today’s most pressing controversies,” Fox wrote in a filing last year.
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