A Delaware judge handed Dominion a major victory in its defamation lawsuit against Fox News.
The judge concluded Fox News made false statements and said the case would go to trial on a narrow set of issues.
At the same time, the judge denied legal claims made by Fox News and its parent company.
A Delaware judge has granted Dominion Voting Systems a partial win in its mammoth defamation lawsuit against Fox News.
In a ruling Friday, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric J. Davis concluded the right-wing media organization made false statements about the election technology company related to the 2020 presidential contest. Davis said the case would go to a jury trial, scheduled for April 17.
“The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that it is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to the Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” Davis wrote.
In the same ruling, Davis denied all the claims from Fox News and Fox Corporation, which argued that Dominion failed to prove they should be held liable for the falsehoods. He wrote that Fox News did not conduct “good-faith, disinterested reporting” about Dominion.
“We are gratified by the Court’s thorough ruling soundly rejecting all of Fox’s arguments and defenses, and finding as a matter of law that their statements about Dominion are false. We look forward to going to trial,” a Dominion spokesperson told Insider.
Dominion filed its lawsuit against Fox News, parent company Fox Corporation, and an array of individual hosts in March 2021, asking for $1.6 billion in damages.
It argued that the media organization defamed it after hosting Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two conspiracy theorist attorneys who worked for then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
Powell and Giuliani falsely claimed that Dominion flipped votes from Trump to now-President Joe Biden. Dominion alleges that Fox News’s hosts should have never had them in the first place, and either endorsed or didn’t sufficiently push back against their false claims.
Friday’s summary judgment ruling represents a setback for Fox News, which has said it was simply reporting on important claims made by the sitting president of the United States and argued that Dominion’s lawsuit represents an assault on the First Amendment.
“This case is and always has been about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” a Fox representative said. “FOX will continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings.”
Davis wrote that a jury must decide whether Fox Corporation should be held liable along with Fox News; whether they acted with “actual malice,” the standard in American libel law for defaming public figures; and whether Dominion incurred any damages.
While the election technology company asked for $1.6 billion in damages, arguing that Fox News’s broadcasts had made it harder to get new business, Fox News has argued it was never worth nearly that much. Valuation documents indicate Dominion is worth less than $100 million, according to Fox.
Ahead of the ruling, both Fox and Dominion had asked for Davis to rule the case in their favor, with each side arguing the facts were so strong in their favor that the case didn’t need to go in front of a jury.
Dominion’s filings with highly embarrassing for Fox. They contained emails, texts, and other records showing that Fox News hosts, producers, executives, and other employees believed Powell and Giuliani were “crazy” and that their claims were false. Allies like Rupert Murdoch and Sean Hannity indicated they were “disgusted” by Trump’s claims of election rigging, filings show.
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