Fox News filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a massive $1.6 billion lawsuit from by voting-technology firm Dominion Voting Systems, citing concerns about freedom of speech and introducing a new development to the closely-watched case.
In the motion, Fox News said Dominion failed to identify “any actionable defamation” by Fox News and did not stipulate facts that Fox News presented the items Dominion challenges “with actual malice.”
“The freedoms of speech and press would be illusory if the prevailing party could obtain billions of dollars from the press because it provided a forum for the losing side,” said Chip Babcock and Scott Keller, two attorneys representing Fox News Media in the matter.
In a statement Wednesday, Dominion Voting indicated it would not be deterred. “Dominion strongly supports free speech, but defamation for commercial gain is clearly not protected, and we intend to hold Fox accountable for its reckless disregard for the truth,” the company said. “This case will strengthen the First Amendment, not weaken it.”
Dominion filed its lawsuit in March in the Superior Court of Delaware, alleging Fox News falsely claimed the company had rigged the 2020 election, repeated items about the matter and subsequently refused to engage as Dominion made efforts to set the record straight. The 2020 election was not rigged and its results were certified by multiple legal processes. In its case, Dominion cited appearances by Trump aides Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani on Fox News programs anchored by Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, during which they made false claims about Dominion’s role in the election..
Dominion said in its suit that it emailed corrections and facts to “reporters and producers, including those who oversaw and managed content for Fox shows Lou Dobbs Tonight, Sunday Morning Futures, Mornings with Maria, Justice w/ Judge Jeanine, Hannity, and numerous other Fox shows.” An email was sent directly to Bartiromo as well, the company said, and Dominion also communicated with Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace.
Another voting company, Smartmatic, has filed a $2.7 billion suit against Fox News on similar grounds. Fox News has sought to have that matter dismissed.
Fox’s motion to dismiss also states that Dominion failed to state a claim “under any applicable pleading standard” and said Fox News coverage of the matter was protected because it addressed “statements regarding matters of public concern.”
Damages sought in the case are significant, and other news companies have been hurt by defamation suits. Walt Disney’s ABC News in 2017 grappled with a $1.9 billion lawsuit from a South Dakota meat producer that alleged the news operation defamed Beef Products Inc. about the safety of low-cost processed beef trimmings referred to in a report as “pink slime.” Disney subsequently disclosed costs of $177 million related to the settlement of the case.