Portions of Smartmatic lawsuit against Fox News can proceed, judge rules

A judge in New York has ruled that key portions of voting systems provider Smartmatic’s lawsuit against Fox News can proceed. 

In an opinion issued on Tuesday, David B. Cohen of the State Supreme Court said Smartmatic attorneys had “pleaded facts sufficient to allow a jury to infer that Fox News acted with actual malice.”

The $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit was filed after the 2020 elections by Smartmatic, which alleges the network harmed the company by broadcasting claims it was involved in widespread election fraud. 

Fox had moved to have the case rejected, saying in a filing last April that the subjects of the lawsuit — hosts Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and former host Lou Dobbs —  were covering the election fraud claims because they were newsworthy and former president Trump was making controversial statements about the election.

Cohen on Tuesday said Fox News had “turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth.”

At the same time, the judge also tossed out claims against Pirro, saying she had not specifically blamed Smartmatic for what she described as an effort by Democrats to “steal” votes.

“While we are gratified that Judge Cohen dismissed Smartmatic’s claims against Jeanine Pirro at this early stage, we still plan to appeal the ruling immediately,” Fox News said in a statement. “We will also continue to litigate these baseless claims by filing a counterclaim for fees and costs under New York’s anti-SLAPP statute to prevent the full-blown assault on the First Amendment which stands in stark contrast to the highest tradition of American journalism.”

The judge’s ruling means the defamation cases against Bartiromo and Dobbs, who is no longer with the network, can proceed.

Fox is also facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which a judge in Delaware ruled in December could also move forward. 

Tags Dominion Voting Systems Donald Trump fox business Fox News Jeanine Pirro Lou Dobbs Maria Bartiromo Mass media Smartmatic

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