Court Lets Lawsuit Against Fox News Move Forward—Here’s Where Dominion And Smartmatic’s Defamation Suits Stand Now


Voting company Smartmatic’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News and several of its anchors can move forward, a judge ruled Tuesday, also reinstating some claims against attorney Rudy Giuliani, as Smartmatic and rival company Dominion Voting Systems pursue a dozen defamation lawsuits over baseless election fraud claims about their voting machines.

Key Facts

Fox News (Smartmatic): Smartmatic sued Fox News and its anchors Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo in February 2021, alleging they “engaged in a conspiracy to spread disinformation about Smartmatic,” and after a New York state judge ruled in March that the $2.7 billion lawsuit could move forward against those defendants but not against anchor Jeanine Pirro, an appeals judge ruled Tuesday that the case can move forward against everyone named in the suit, denying Fox’s motion to dismiss.

Fox News (Dominion): Dominion sued Fox News in March 2021 alleging the network had knowingly spread false news about its machines to improve failing ratings, and Delaware state Judge Eric M. Davis denied Fox’s motion to dismiss the case in December.

Rudy Giuliani (Smartmatic): Smartmatic named Giuliani as a defendant in the first lawsuit it filed in April 2021; a New York state judge allowed some of its claims to move forward against him but not others before an appeals judge reinstated those claims on Tuesday, and Giuliani has countersued Smartmatic in an effort to reclaim his attorneys fees in the case.

Rudy Giuliani (Dominion): A federal judge has allowed Dominion’s case against Giuliani to move forward, declining to throw out the defamation lawsuit on technical procedural grounds as Giuliani had asked after the voting machine company sued him in January 2021, alleging he “enriche[d] himself by falsely claiming that Dominion fixed the election.”

Sidney Powell (Dominion): Dominion filed its first lawsuit in January 2021 against far-right attorney Powell, who has been the most prominent person spreading fraud claims involving the companies’ voting machines, seeking $1.3 billion in damages, and U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols denied Powell’s motion to dismiss the case in August 2021.

Sidney Powell (Smartmatic): Smartmatic named Powell as a defendant in a lawsuit in state court in April 2021, and while a judge ruled that case couldn’t move forward against her, the company has separately sued her in federal court, which remains pending.

OANN (Dominion): U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled November 7 that Dominion’s lawsuit against OANN can move forward, finding Dominion has jurisdiction to bring the case, after the voting company sued One America News Network (OANN) in August 2021, alleging the far-right network promoted fraud allegations despite knowing they were false and “​​helped create and cultivate an alternate reality where … Dominion engaged in a colossal fraud.”

OANN (Smartmatic): Smartmatic separately sued OANN in federal court in November 2021, alleging the network “reported a lie” and spread fraud claims about the company—whose machines were only used in California in 2020—knowing they were false; Nichols similarly ruled that case can move forward in June.

Mike Lindell (Smartmatic): U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright denied MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s motion to dismiss Smartmatic’s case against him in September, after Smartmatic sued MyPillow and Lindell in January for defamation and deceptive trade practices, alleging the CEO spread “lies” about the company and “intentionally stoked the fires of xenophobia and party-divide for the noble purpose of selling his pillows.”

Mike Lindell (Dominion): Denver-based Dominion separately sued Lindell and MyPillow for defamation in federal court, which a judge allowed to move forward in August 2021, with Dominion alleging the CEO “sells the lie” about the company’s voting machines “because the lie sells pillows.”

Fox Corporation (Dominion): Dominion separately sued Fox Corporation—including executives Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch—in November, alleging the Murdochs were responsible for Fox News’ false fraud claims involving Dominion machines; a judge has allowed that case to move forward, though he dismissed allegations against Fox Broadcasting Company over fraud claims made on

Newsmax (Dominion): Dominion sued Newsmax in Delaware state court in August 2021, and Davis denied a motion to dismiss the suit in June, finding the news network likely knew its allegations against Dominion were “probably false” and its reporting may have intentionally left out evidence showing Dominion wasn’t involved with election fraud.

Newsmax (Smartmatic): Smartmatic sued Newsmax in Delaware state court in November, alleging it spread false claims against the voting company, and Newsmax has countersued Smartmatic because it alleges the company is trying to censor the network’s First Amendment-protected speech.

Patrick Byrne (Dominion): Dominion sued former Overstock CEO Byrne in August 2021, alleging the businessman “manufactured and promoted fake evidence to convince the world that the 2020 election had been stolen” using Dominion voting machines, and U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols denied Byrne’s motion to dismiss the case in April, ruling “a reasonable jury could find Byrne acted with actual malice” in spreading provably false assertions about Dominion.

What To Watch For

Dominion’s lawsuits against Powell, Lindell and Giuliani aren’t likely to go to trial until late 2023 or early 2024, based on a schedule the judge set, and the exact trial date won’t be known until at least July. Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News will go to trial in April 2023, and Nichols set a scheduling order in Smartmatic’s OANN lawsuit suggesting it won’t go to trial until at least fall 2024. It’s still unclear when the other defamation cases will move forward to a trial.

Big Number

$1.6 billion. That’s approximately how much Dominion is asking for in damages against OANN, Byrne, Newsmax, Fox News and Fox Corp. Its lawsuits against Powell, Giuliani and Lindell are each seeking $1.3 billion in damages. Smartmatic’s Fox News lawsuit is seeking $2.7 billion in damages, but its OANN, Newsmax and Lindell complaints do not specify exact figures.

Chief Critics

The parties who have been sued have largely remained defiant, and Lindell has continued to push false claims of election fraud despite the multiple defamation suits against him. Fox News said in a statement Tuesday it believes it will prevail against Smartmatic, saying, “Freedom of the press is foundational to our democracy and must be protected, in addition to the damages claims being outrageous, unsupported, and not rooted in sound financial analysis.” Giuliani has called the lawsuit against him “another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left-wing,” and Newsmax called Dominion’s lawsuit “a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.” OANN has also moved to dismiss the cases against them, and Nichols is now deliberating on whether to throw out the case.

Key Background

The companies’ voting machines are at the heart of a right-wing conspiracy theory alleging they were used to fraudulently flip votes from Trump to Joe Biden, which is not substantiated by evidence. Dominion says that the claims have substantially hurt its business and put its employees in danger. The voting company controls about 30% of the U.S. market, according to data cited by ProPublica in 2019—making it the second-largest business of its kind in the country—and said in its Fox News lawsuit that it has contracts with 28 states. Business analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet estimated the company’s 2021 annual revenue will be $40.15 million, though the company alleges it has lost out on state contracts over the fraud claims, including a $10 million contract in Stark County, Ohio, and a $100 million contract in Louisiana. London-based Smartmatic’s machines were only used in Los Angeles County in the 2020 election, though CEO told Antonio Mugica told Forbes the company has ambitions to expand further in the U.S. The company alleged in its complaints the fraud claims have caused Smartmatic to lose more than $2 billion in valuation since the 2020 election, going from more than $3 billion to less than $1 billion, though Forbes has independently valued Smartmatic at an estimated $730 million.

Further Reading

The Exclusive Inside Story Of The Fall Of Overstock’s Mad King, Patrick Byrne (Forbes)

Voting Company Smartmatic Sues MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell For Defamation (Forbes)

Voting Company Smartmatic Sues One America News And Newsmax For Defamation Over Election Fraud Claims (Forbes)

Dominion Sues Newsmax, OANN And Ex-Overstock CEO Byrne In New Defamation Suits Over Election Conspiracy Theory (Forbes)

Dominion Voting Sues Sidney Powell For Defamation Over Election Conspiracy—And Others May Be Next (Forbes)

Dominion Voting Sues Rudy Giuliani For $1.3 Billion Over Election Conspiracy (Forbes)

Dominion Voting Sues MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell For Defamation Over Election Conspiracy (Forbes)