Fox News said that it plans to “immediately” appeal the ruling.
A New York judge will allow Smartmatic to pursue its $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, and other personalities who falsely accused the elections technology company of rigging the 2020 presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor.
In his ruling, New York Supreme Court Justice David Cohen rejected several defendants’ requests to dismiss the lawsuit.
Cohen further said that Smartmatic can pursue most of its claims against Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who later served as Donald Trump’s attorney and political consultant.
However, Cohen’s decision did not provide Smartmatic a uniform victory, dismissing all claims against Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and another former Trump campaign attorney, Sidney Powell.
Smartmatic, as LegalReader.com has reported before, claimed that the defendants made the company a “villain” by spreading rumors about its integrity.
In its lawsuit, Smartmatic said that Fox News and its associates fed into conspiracy theories to boost their ratings, attract Trump supporters, and gain a competitive advantage over other right-wing media outlets.
Smartmatic noted that it only provided technological services to Los Angeles County, a Democratic enclave which Biden carried in 2020.
While Cohen’s ruling did not discuss the merits of Smartmatic’s claim, the judge found “substantial basis” to believe that Fox News “turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about [Smartmatic], unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth.”
Conservative pundits, notes Reuters, weaponized bizarre theories to explain Donald Trump’s loss.
Giuliani, for instance, repeatedly claimed that Smartmatic had helped rigged elections for the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez—and suggested that the company was up to its “old tricks” in the United States.
Fox News said that it plans to appeal the ruling.
“While we are gratified that Judge Cohen dismissed Smartmatic’s claims against Jeanine Pirro at this early stage, we still plan to appeal the ruling immediately,” Fox said in a statement, saying that it would “continue to litigate these baseless claims by filing a counterclaim for fees and costs” under New York’s anti-SLAPP statutes.
Anti-SLAPP statutes, notes The New York Times, are intended to quickly resolve lawsuits that pose a threat to individuals’ First Amendment rights.
Fox News is facing a similar lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, another election technology company that claims Fox News’ alleged disinformation campaign irreparably-and illegally–damaged its reputation and business.
A Delaware-based judge has already rejected Fox’s bid to dismiss Dominion’s complaint.