Dominion Voting Systems can’t prove it suffered defamation damages of more than $1 billion from Fox News broadcasting claims that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election, the network’s lawyers told a Delaware judge.
The whopping estimate made in the Denver-based company’s lawsuit reflects a manipulation of the damage calculation, including counting lost sales of voting machines that hadn’t actually occurred yet or been secured by contract, Fox attorney Erin Murphy argued Wednesday at a court hearing.
“There are other reasons” Dominion lost business besides being blamed by Fox hosts and guests for throwing the election to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Murphy said. The company also had operational and security problems with their machines, she said.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said he’d rule later on whether the case will proceed to an April 17 trial.
Dominion’s lawyers contend key players at Fox never believed the fraud allegations, but sat on their hands while lawyer Sidney Powell and other allies of then-President Donald Trump went on air to accuse Dominion of conspiring with Democrats and foreign governments to rig the vote.
The voting machine maker says state governments across the U.S. are shying away from their products in the wake of the false claims about election fraud, chopping its value by more than $1 billion.
Fox’s legal team contends the network didn’t defame Dominion by reporting on issues tied to a story of national importance and that its actions are protected free speech under the First Amendment. Murphy said Wednesday there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the network’s part to justify Dominion’s bid for punitive damages.
“The jury shouldn’t punish us for sharing one of the most important news stories” in the wake of the 2020 election, Murphy said.
Stephen Shackleford Jr., an attorney for Dominion, countered the lawsuit against Fox isn’t “the normal defamation” case because the network repeatedly served up untrue statements about the voting machine maker’s role in the 2020 election to woo back hard-right voters.
Davis warned lawyers for both sides Wednesday key witnesses in the case – including Fox Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and news celebrities such as Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo – would likely be forced to testify in person during the nearly six-week trial.