Judge Concludes Dominion Has Case Against Fox News; Opinion Privilege Defense Didn't Work

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/31/2023
The Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News over the network's coverage of the business has been sent to trial by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis.

Dominion is suing the news network for $1.6 billion, claiming that while covering the 2020 presidential election and former President Donald Trump's allegations of voter fraud, the corporation broadcast misleading information about its software.

According to The Hill, the decision from the Delaware Court stated that "the evidence collected in this civil suit reveals that it is Absolutely obvious that none of the Statements relating to Dominion regarding the 2020 election are truthful." As a result, the Court will give Dominion summary judgment on the falsehood aspect.

He asserted that "Dominion has provided evidence proving that the claims were substantially incorrect." The truth would probably have had a different effect on the ordinary viewer compared to the charges at issue because they were so drastically different from the truth.

Fox had made an effort to make its case using the First Amendment. Fox pledged that it will "continue to passionately defend for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings" despite the court rejecting its arguments.

Judge Davis frequently wrote in his judgement variations of the following: "For each of these twenty Statements, Judge Davis found twenty times "The Statement Asserts a Fact," rejecting Fox's claims that the words were taken out of context or were protected opinion.

A reasonable viewer would comprehend that [the Fox News on-air presenters] are asserting facts about Dominion, not an opinion, when taken into account in the context of the whole communication made during the segment.

The Court concludes that the Statement makes factual assertions and is therefore not covered by the opinion privilege. Even worse for Fox, Judge Davis determined that Dominion had proven that the twenty Statements were untrue in addition to finding that they were true.

The record does not demonstrate a real dispute of material fact regarding falsehood, even though the Court must view it in Fox's favor. Dominion has accomplished its burden of demonstrating that there is no real question of material fact regarding untruth through its thorough proof. Fox was therefore required to establish each instance of a significant fact problem. Fox failed to carry its weight. The information gathered in this civil case shows unequivocally that none of the Dominion Claims regarding the 2020 election are accurate. As a result, the Court will give Dominion summary judgment with regard to the element of falsehood. [Original emphasis in bold]

As was already mentioned, the Statements are defamatory by nature because they implied that Dominion had engaged in election fraud, had manipulated vote totals using its software and algorithms, had been established in Venezuela to rig elections in favor of the authoritarian Hugo Chavez, and had given bribes to officials who used the machines during the Election. Dominion claims that the Statements violate the foundational integrity of its operations. The Statements are inherently defamatory because of this. Also, it appears that Dominion is accused of the grave crime of election fraud in the Statements. Even in the guise of an opinion, accusations of illegal action are not protected by the constitution.

Fox's summary judgment petitions were completely denied by Judge Davis, who then remanded the case to trial to address the issues that the Dominion summary judgment motions did not address.

The fact that the judge rejected Fox's attempts to limit damages may have been the most devastating for Rupert Murdoch's media empire. If the lawsuit does not settle at this stage, the jury may decide to review the case and slap Fox with a verdict of more than $1 billion in damages.

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