Shortly before a trial was scheduled to commence, FOX and Dominion announced the surprise settlement, which will oblige the right-wing media network to pay nearly $1 billion in damages.
FOX News has settled a high-stakes defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems.
According to CNN, FOX will pay the election technology company an estimated $787.5 million in damages.
This payment, writes CNN, constitutes the single largest media-related defamation settlement in American history.
Dominion had earlier filed a multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against FOX News, which had allowed its personalities and guests to propagate unfounded conspiracy theories about Dominion’s role in the 2020 presidential election.
FOX News had, for instance, allowed several prominent guests to repeatedly claim—without any evidence—that Dominion officials had somehow tampered with ballots, effectively “stealing” the election from incumbent Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The settlement was announced shortly after the jury was sworn in at a Delaware Superior Court.
While rumors of an impending settlement had been days in the making, the proceedings abruptly ended for nearly three hours. After a lunch-break and an extended round of negotiations, Dominion and FOX announced that they had reached an agreement.
Judge Eric Davis then dismissed the 12-member jury, explaining that attorneys for both sides had settled the defamation claim.
“The parties have resolved their case,” Davis said, signaling the end of what was once billed as a potential “trial of the century.”
Justin Nelson, an attorney for Dominion, said that the payment “represents vindication and accountability.”
“For our democracy to endure another 250 years, and hopefully much longer, we must share a commitment to facts,” Nelson said. “Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy.”
While FOX refused to backtrack and issue a publicly broadcasted statement acknowledging that it spread disinformation about Dominion’s alleged role in a 2020 election-tampering conspiracy, attorneys for the network recognized “the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”
“This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards,” Fox said in a statement. “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.”
CNN reports that, despite the case’s sudden dismissal, Davis thanked the members of the jury, telling them that their presence in the courtroom likely encouraged Dominion and FOX to reach an agreement.
“Your presence here, short compared to what you thought, and uneventful in a certain sense, was extremely important,” Davis said. “Without you, the parties would not have been able to resolve their situation.”
Dominion officials have since cast the settlement as a resounding victory for truth and democracy.
“FOX has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve,” Dominion C.E.O. John Poulos said shortly after the agreement was announced.
While Dominion’s case against FOX is now resolved, the company is pursuing similar defamation claims against other right-wing media networks, including Newsmax and OAN.
Dominion is also continuing to litigate claims against prominent Trump allies Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Mike Lindell.