A $787.5 million settlement has been reached in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6billion defamation case against Fox news.
After an hours-long delay, Judge Eric Davis entered the courtroom just before 4pm and thanked the jurors as he dismissed them with the simple words, ‘The parties have resolved their case.’
After the jury was dismissed attorneys for both parties thanked the court. Judge Davis in turn complimented their professionalism throughout.
This brings an end to the contentious case that saw the voting machine company accuse the cable news network of ‘giving life’ to a ‘manufactured storyline’ about voter fraud after the 2020 election.
Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson said in a news conference that Fox is paying $787,500,000 to settle the defamation case, a number which he says ‘represents vindication and accountability.’
‘Lies have consequences,’ he said.
The network said in a statement, ‘We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.
‘This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.’
Attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems speak at a news conference outside New Castle County Courthouse after the defamation lawsuit was settled
A settlement has been reached in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6billion defamation case against Fox news today
Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch was expected to testify in the trial against his Fox news – which was accused of peddling conspiracy theories regarding election fraud after Trump’s defeat in 2020
Judge Davis said: ‘I’ve been on the bench since 2010 and I think this is the best ordering I’ve had.
‘The briefing, the professionalism, It’s difficult stuff. I’ve never had as good a lawyering from here in the 13 years – the quality of the briefing, the ability of attorneys to answer questions, the amount of work load that you’ve done.
‘I’d be proud to be your judge in the future.’
Opening statements had been due to start directly after lunch at 1.30pm. But, after only a fleeting appearance during which he did not address anyone, Judge Eric Davis left the courtroom.
Time ticked on and with no jury seated, no judge on the bench and no explanation, the soft murmur of speculation from the gallery rose to a crescendo.
Justin Nelson, lead counsel for Dominion, and Dan Webb, his Fox counterpart, were called into Judge Davis’s chambers at 2.58pm.
Barely two minutes later they were back in the court, their faces giving nothing away.
This morning Dominion told the judge they needed 1hr 15 minutes for their opening statement while Fox had requested one hour 30 minutes.
Approximately 20 counsels for Dominion shuffled into the long front bench to the left of the gallery in the morning.
Fox news attorney Daniel Webb is seen leaving the courthouse Tuesday after reaching a settlement
A roughly equal number of their counterparts for Fox squeezed into two shorter pews to the right.
A further 20 attorneys – ten apiece – took their seats in the tables reserved for counsel in the court’s well until the front portion of the chamber heaved with lawyers.
Perhaps in a hint of how fiercely this action has already been fought, the objections from both sides were raised before jury selection was complete.
Counsel for Dominion and Fox each raised objections to slides and content in their counterpart’s opening.
According to Fox’s lead counsel Dan Webb, Dominion’s objections if sustained would ‘cripple’ their presentation.
Apparently already irritated by the day’s delay and the specter of proceedings being further obstructed, Judge Davis informed the court that he would deal with objections ahead of openings but warned, ‘We only have so much time. We have six weeks and I’m going to keep it strict. I’m not going to give you an extra day. This will start to count against you.’
Discussing it further, he told both sides to see if they could sort it out among themselves as he didn’t want to ‘micromanage’ and didn’t think it appropriate.
In a dry and stern warning, he went onto tell the court that there are ‘certain rules in the courtroom – my rules.’ Anyone violating them or failing to follow the instruction of the capitol police or bailiffs would, he said, ‘be in big trouble. Even if you’re right.’
The legal team representing Fox news is seen arriving this morning at the Leonard Williams Justice Center
Approximately 20 counsels for Fox were seen arriving to court holding boxes of documents
Opening statements in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6B defamation suit against Fox news begin today in Delaware Superior Court. A truck is seen driving in front of the courthouse this morning
The trial has been widely viewed as a test of whether Fox’s coverage crossed the line between ethical journalism and the heedless pursuit of ratings, as Dominion alleges and Fox denies
Final jury selection, which had been delayed along with the start of the trial from Monday, took just over an hour with 12 jurors and 12 alternates chosen from an already slimmed down pool of 58.
It was a sedate and tedious process with no questions asked as a group of 12 was brought in and seated in the jury box. Instead, an officer of the court read from a list of already agreed numbers – preemptory strikes from both sides – and dismissed potential jurors one by one without explanation.
As each one left, their seat was refilled by another candidate. Bit by bit the profile of the potential twelve rippled with change until it was settled: an even split of men and women, seven black, five white.
The 12 alternates were seated and affirmed in a similar fashion.
In a moment of drama minutes after the jury were seated an alternate raised his hand and told the court ‘Sir I can’t do this. I’ve been up all night. I can’t do this.’
After a brief discussion with the judge and counsel the juror was dismissed and another alternate seated and sworn in.
The jurors and alternates will, Judge Davis told them, ‘Have to fight human nature’ and it will be the hardest thing they have to do.
‘You are going to want to talk about this [case],’ he told them. ‘You can’t.’
Nor can they consult the internet, social media or be in the presence of anyone discussing the case. ‘The key,’ according to Judge Davis, ‘is don’t compromise yourself.’
Dominion claims Fox defamed the long-established voting firm by questioning its technology and methods after Donald Trump’s November 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.
Jury selection in what shaped as the most-anticipated defamation trial in America was expected to conclude Monday before opening statements but Judge Davis on Sunday announced he was delaying the start 24 hours.
The lawsuit, filed in Delaware Superior Court, accuses Fox of ‘giving life’ to a ‘manufactured storyline about election fraud’ in its coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Many legal experts are surprised Fox and Dominion have not already reached an out-of-court settlement, although they can at any time.
The media giant contends the $1.6 billion damages claim is a wild overestimate while the voting company has been accused of trying to inflict maximum embarrassment by exposing the network’s internal communications following the election.
Fox Corp chairman, Rupert Murdoch, was expected to be one of the first witnesses called before a parade of executives and on-air hosts, including Carlson, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.
The evidence includes recordings of Rudy Giuliani, former President Trump’s lawyer, saying in pre-taped Fox appearances that he did not have any evidence to back up the false allegations of election rigging by Dominion in the 2020 race that are at the heart of the lawsuit.
The recordings were made by a former Fox employee who is currently suing the network.
Fox defamed the voting firm by questioning their technology and methods after Trump lost to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Dominion claims
The voting company says the claims were part of a calculated bid by the network to ‘lure viewers back’ after they lost loyal fans because they were the first to declare that Trump had lost the state of Arizona.
Dominion, which was founded in 2002 and had, until 2020, operated largely unknown in 28 states in America said ‘Fox endorsed, repeated and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion.’
These included claims that the company committed election fraud by rigging the 2020 presidential election, that its software and algorithms manipulated vote counts, that it was owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections for former president Hugo Chavez, and that it paid ‘kickbacks’ to government officials who used its machines in the 2020 election.
Dominion claims Fox knew these claims were false but ‘recklessly disregarded the truth,’ as its hosts including Hannity, Pirro, Carlson, Lou Dobbs, and Maria Bartiromo, gave it oxygen.
The suit slams the network for allowing guests such as Sidney Powell, a lawyer denounced by the Trump team, Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on air to peddle conspiracy theories regarding election fraud unchallenged and unchecked.
Dominion’s lawyers allege the false claims were promoted on Fox’s news channels and online to its 80million subscribers ensuring the ‘lies’ went viral as people tweeted and retweeted them and that, ultimately, they were seen by billions.
The voting company says it lost millions in unrenewed state contracts as a result and anger generated by claims of a ‘stolen election’ put company personnel in physical danger which required $600,000 in additional security measures.
Fox news hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and other on-air stars, were deposed in the case last year. The lawsuit claims the hosts helped perpetuate election fraud lies on air
Jeanine Pirro interviewing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who is also being sued by Dominion in a separate lawsuit. They are pictured on November 14, 2020
The suit also slams the network for allowing guests such as former New York mayor and Trump cohort, Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on air to peddle conspiracy theories about voter fraud unchallenged and unchecked
Fox Corp, which reported nearly $14 billion in annual revenue last year, said the lawsuit was a threat to press freedom and the $1.6 billion figure unrealistic and based on flawed economic modeling.
‘While Dominion has pushed irrelevant and misleading information to generate headlines, Fox news remains steadfast in protecting the rights of a free press,’ Fox said in a statement.
Fox had argued that coverage of the vote-rigging claims was inherently newsworthy and protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of press freedom.
Judge Davis rejected that argument in a ruling last month on both parties’ competing motions for summary judgment.
Fox said Dominion cannot pin actual malice on the individuals whom Dominion says were responsible for the defamatory statements.
The network said Dominion must prove that a ‘superior officer’ at the network or its parent company ‘ordered, participated in, or ratified’ wrongdoing.
Texts and emails revealed as part of the litigation appear to indicate that several people at Fox had doubts about the election fraud claims.
Carlson, in a text to host Laura Ingraham in November 2020, said ‘Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.’
In a later text he wrote: ‘It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people, and they believe it.’
In another text political correspondent Bret Baier wrote, ‘There is NO evidence of fraud.’
Murdoch himself has also conceded that some Fox hosts, ‘endorsed’ the ‘false notion’ that the 2020 election was stolen and that he personally could have done more to prevent claims from airing.
But lawyers for the network maintain that there is no evidence of a high-level conspiracy to peddle a falsehood, or that Murdoch and his colleagues were, ‘reckless with the truth.’