From today’s decision of the New York transitional court in Smartmatic USA Corp. v. Fox Corp.:
The causes of action for defamation were based on substantive allegations that Defendants Giuliani (and Defendant Powell, against whom the suit was dismissed) made defamatory statements about Plaintiffs’ involvement in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing those statements to be false, or at least with reckless disregard the truth.
Those causes of action also allege that defendants Fox News, Dobbs, and Bartiromo did not merely report a newsworthy fact that the president’s campaign attorneys had recklessly made statements conveying false information. Instead, the complaint details that in their reporting and commentary by Fox News, Dobbs and Bartiromo effectively supported and participated in the statements with reckless disregard or serious doubt as to whether the allegations or implications that the plaintiffs engaged in election fraud had any basis. in truth or supported by any reliable evidence.
In fact, according to the complaint, Fox News, Dobbs and Bartiromo stated that Smartmatic’s election technology and software were widely used in the 2020 election and in Dominion’s vote-changing machines, when in fact they knew or could have easily known that they were not intentionally avoiding publicly available knowledge that in 2020 Smartmatic technology was only used in Los Angeles County and that the vote-switching claims were otherwise unsupported. By the same reasoning, the claims against Pirro, based on similar allegations of defamatory statements made with actual malice, must be reinstated.
However, the Supreme Court [that’s the name for the New York trial court -EV] erred in dismissing the third and fifth causes of action against defendant Giuliani, and we reverse those claims. As noted, those causes of action allege defamatory statements that form the basis of defamation per se and do not sound like product disparagement or otherwise require specific damages.
The court concluded that the cases against Fox Corporation—as opposed to Fox News—should have been dismissed (albeit with leave to rehear if the plaintiffs could allege that an “employee of Fox Corporation played an affirmative role in the publication of the defamatory statements at issue” or ” that Fox Corporation completely dominated Fox News in order to [be] responsible for the actions of its subsidiary”).
And the judgment is “declining[d] establish that plaintiffs should be considered public figures with a limited purpose who are required to allege facts which, if true, would ‘clearly and convincingly’ show defamation with actual malice.”
Congratulations to Edward C. Wipper and Joel Erik Connoly (Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP), who represent Smartmatic.
UPDATE: Fox News carries this statement:
There is nothing more newsworthy than reporting on the President of the United States and his lawyers making allegations of election fraud. We are confident we will prevail because press freedom is the foundation of our democracy and must be protected, except that the claims for damages are outrageous, unsubstantiated and not based on sound financial analysis, serving only as a flagrant attempt to deter our journalists from doing their jobs.