In a remarkable last-minute turn of events the high-stakes defamation trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News which was scheduled to start on Monday, was abruptly postponed on Sunday (16 April) evening, raising the possibility that a settlement was in the works.
Opening arguments were scheduled to begin on Monday 16 April, but the Delaware Superior Court unexpectedly announced that “the start of the trial” will now take place on Tuesday. The judge’s remark gave no justification for the hold-up.
The court has decided that the trial’s opening, including jury selection, will now take place on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.. Using the legal phrase “continue,” which denotes a delay or postponement, I shall deliver this announcement tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 7E.
The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch, stated on Sunday night that “Fox has made a late push to settle the dispute out of court,” citing persons familiar with the situation. At the same time, the statement was made.
“Dominion has seemed quite motivated, throughout this case, to play it out on a public stage and correct the larger record on election denialism,” said RonNell Anderson Jones, a First Amendment specialist and law professor at the University of Utah.
But after a particularly difficult week of pretrial hearings the previous week and, particularly, in light of the most recent revelations from the ex-employee who is now in Dominion’s camp, Fox may be much more motivated to accede to whatever Dominion may be asking.
Jones was making reference to Abby Grossberg, a former newsroom producer who claimed Fox lawyers intimidated her into defending the network and its on-air characters in her deposition for the Dominion case. She has intensified her own legal action against the business, naming CEO Suzanne Scott as a defendant and charging the attorneys for the business with erasing messages from her phone.
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Huge Damages are Demanded
Dominion had filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, seeking $1.6 billion in damages. When Fox anchors and guests asserted in 2020 that its voting systems fraudulently rigged the election against Donald Trump, it claims that the right-wing network defamed it.
In addition to asserting that it is “proud” of the way it covered the 2020 election, Fox News has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said that Dominion’s lawsuit poses a danger to the First Amendment. The $1.6 billion number, according to the network, is greatly exaggerated.
Legal professionals have expressed astonishment that Fox has not settled the issue as the case has moved through the judicial system and more incriminating evidence has surfaced. A settlement would prevent Fox from going through what is expected to be a painful and embarrassing few weeks.
The trial will also feature testimony from some of the company’s highest-ranking officials and most prominent hosts regarding the electoral lies that the network propagated following the 2020 election.
One of the most significant defamation setbacks for a US media source ever would occur if a jury decides to side with Dominion during the trial and grants a sum of money that is close to the amount the voting technology business is requesting.
Top executives at the right-wing talk network didn’t buy into the conspiracy theories that were broadcast on the air and disseminated to viewers, according to private text messages and emails that have previously been made public as part of the case.
The contacts showed prominent hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity were aware that Trump’s election falsehoods were untrue, yet they nonetheless emphasized voter fraud allegations on their broadcasts.
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