In the wake of Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement in the defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, Fox Corporation and Rupert Murdoch are not out of the woods yet, legal experts say. news week.
The settlement was made before the case could go to trial and includes testimony from Fox Corporation Chairman Murdoch to discuss false claims made by network hosts and guests about Dominion and its role in alleged related voter fraud. with the 2020 presidential election. Dominion originally requested $1.6 billion.
“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and our customers. Nothing can make up for that,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said. news week in a statement following Tuesday’s deal.
However, Fox Corporation’s legal battles may be just beginning due to several lawsuits, including a new lawsuit filed Thursday in the Delaware Court of Chancery, according to Bloomberg Law.
That class action lawsuit, which was filed under seal, allegedly targets Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, and former US House Speaker Paul Ryan and current Fox board member, among other senior company officials. company, for bringing the company into legal jeopardy.
Leading shareholders in the proposed class action lawsuit, Julie Greenberg and Carylin Riak, are represented by Prickett, Jones & Elliott PA. news week reached out to Greenberg by email for comment.
That lawsuit is compared to a shareholder derivative lawsuit filed April 11 in the same court by James Schwarz, who “claims breaches of fiduciary duty” against certain members of the company’s board of directors and senior officers.
Schwarz, represented by Heyman Enerio Gattuso & Hirzel LLP and Gardy & Notis LLP in Wilmington, Delaware, alleges that the “24-hour news channel knowingly allowed the news channel to broadcast, promote, and perpetuate a false story of voter fraud in connection to the 2020 US Presidential Election to maintain the network’s ratings and viewers, who were known to be supporters of Donald Trump.”
“Even at the cost of misleading viewers, FOX executives and the Board knew that Fox News anchors were making false statements to the public,” the lawsuit states. “FOX knew that its viewers expected FOX to show support for President Trump, so to satisfy their viewers, certain Fox News hosts blamed Dominion and Smartmatic for the loss of President Trump by claiming the election was rigged.”
Attorney Kurt Heyman, who is among those representing Schwarz, said news week via email that the firm had no comment at this time.
Smartmatic, an election technology company that rivals Dominion, sued Fox News in February 2021 for defamation. It is seeking $2.7 billion in damages from the corporation, including some anchors, in a lawsuit seeking more than $1 billion more in damages compared to the case settled earlier this week.
“The Dominion litigation exposed some of the misconduct and harm caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Connolly said in a statement that was tweeted by Semafor editor-in-chief Ben Smith on Tuesday afternoon. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recovering significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”
news week reached out to Smartmatic via email for comment.
“We will be ready to argue this case around newsworthy events when it goes to trial, probably in 2025,” Fox Corporation spokesman Brian Nick said. news week by email on Friday. “As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damage claims are implausible, out of touch with reality and, on the face of it, intended to freeze First Amendment liberties.”
‘Smell blood in the water’
Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said news week over the phone that the shareholder derivative lawsuits are being filed because Fox Corporation lost value and the directors are liable to those shareholders for those losses.
“In a suit like that, they’ll be able to do the discovery… and they’ll be able to see what Murdoch knew, what the hosts knew,” Rahmani said. “All that evidence will come out.”
He was reminded of the $90 million settlement reached in 2017 by Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. following allegations of sexual harassment on Fox News against former host Bill O’Reilly.
“[Smartmatic has] You have to smell blood in the water,” he added. “They are already asking for more money. Fox has a history of solving these types of cases before. Executives have to testify in a very public way, in an embarrassing way.
“Now [Smartmatic has] to think that the company is on their heels and that they are going to get paid. I wouldn’t be surprised if they cross the billion dollar mark. They must be feeling fantastic right now.”
Andrew Lieb, a New York attorney, said news week via email that “Dominion has really paved the way” for these derivative-based lawsuits.
“Clearly this is not Murdoch’s week,” Lieb said. “Furthermore, we can only hope that this lawsuit can go to trial so that Fox stars have to testify where their audience can hear from them that they knowingly lied to inflame hate and increase viewership. The country deserves it.”