Fox News allowed to pursue claims that voting firm’s defamation suit is anti-free speech

Judge Allows Fox News’ Counterclaims in Smartmatic Lawsuit to Proceed

In a recent ruling, a judge has rejected Smartmatic’s attempt to dismiss Fox News’ counterclaims, allowing both parties’ claims to move forward in the multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuit. Smartmatic has accused Fox News of spreading false information that the voting technology company helped rig the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump. Fox News, on the other hand, argues that Smartmatic’s lawsuit is an attempt to suppress free speech and is countersuing under a New York law that prohibits baseless litigation aimed at silencing reporting or criticism on public issues.

Smartmatic’s lawsuit, which is separate from the Dominion Voting Systems case that Fox News settled for $787 million last year, alleges that the network’s false statements have caused significant damage to the company’s reputation and business. The company claims that its value has plummeted, and it has received numerous threats following Fox News’ broadcasts. Fox News did not apologize in the Dominion case but acknowledged that certain claims about Dominion were false.

Both sides have made unsuccessful attempts to have each other’s claims dismissed. However, trial Judge David B. Cohen ruled that Fox News’ counterclaims can proceed, stating that Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion claim is so inflated that it appears to be an effort to silence the network. Cohen emphasized that this argument has not yet been adjudicated in any court.

Smartmatic asserts that its technology and software were only used in California’s Los Angeles County during the 2020 presidential election, a Democratic stronghold that voted for President Joe Biden. However, Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, appeared on Fox News after the election and falsely portrayed Smartmatic as part of a broader conspiracy to steal the election from Trump. They claimed that the company had been created to fix elections and called it a “huge criminal conspiracy.”

Numerous federal and state election officials, as well as Trump’s own attorney general, have found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome of the 2020 election. Dozens of courts, including those with judges appointed by Trump, rejected his allegations of fraud. In the Dominion lawsuit, a Delaware judge ruled that none of the allegations made by Trump allies on Fox News were true, leading to the case going to trial before it was settled.

Smartmatic argues that the Delaware ruling should invalidate Fox News’ counterclaims in the Smartmatic case. However, Judge Cohen disagreed, citing legal doctrine regarding the application of decisions from one case to another. He stated that not all elements of Smartmatic’s defamation claims against Fox News have been determined.

The outcome of this lawsuit will have significant implications for both Smartmatic and Fox News. Smartmatic is seeking compensation for the damage done to its reputation and business, while Fox News is seeking attorneys’ fees and costs in its counterclaims. The ruling allows both parties to present their arguments and evidence in court, potentially leading to a trial to determine the outcome of the case.

Original Story at – 2024-01-24 20:01:00

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