Fox Corp. is set to face a significant legal challenge as a New York judge has ruled that Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against the company will proceed. The decision, reported by NBC News, marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing court battle between the voting technology company Smartmatic and Fox News’ parent company.
Smartmatic, which was accused of rigging the 2020 U.S. election despite its limited use in only one district, initiated the lawsuit against Fox and some of its hosts and guests in 2021. This case is part of several ongoing legal disputes related to election conspiracy theories.
Fox Corp., led at the time by Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, had requested the court to dismiss the defamation claims, arguing that the corporation was not responsible for the news coverage. However, New York County Supreme Court Justice David Cohen rejected this argument. In his ruling, Cohen stated that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Fox Corp. employees were actively involved in the publication of the alleged defamatory content.
In a win for Fox, the judge also denied Smartmatic’s motion to dismiss Fox News and Fox Corp.’s counterclaims. These claims suggest that Smartmatic’s lawsuit aims to suppress free speech. Cohen highlighted that the extent of the damages claimed by Smartmatic had not been fully adjudicated and warranted further examination.
The legal battle comes after Fox Corp. settled a similar lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. However, the judge noted that this previous settlement would not significantly impact the current case, as it was resolved outside of court.
Fox Corp. is preparing to defend its position in what is expected to be a highly scrutinized trial, likely to occur in 2025. A Fox spokesperson emphasized the company’s readiness to contest the case, arguing that Smartmatic’s damages claims are unrealistic and an attempt to stifle First Amendment freedoms.