When Dominion settled its closely-watched $787.5m defamation lawsuit against Fox last month, its lawyers made it clear that the company would continue to pursue legal action against those who spread false claims about the company and the 2020 election.
The company still has major defamation cases pending against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne and Mike Lindell – all allies of Donald Trump who were some of the most prominent figures that spread election lies involving the voting machine company on television and elsewhere after the 2020 election.
“Money is accountability and we got that today from Fox, but we’re not done yet. We’ve got some other people who have some accountability coming towards them,” Stephen Shackelford, a lawyer who represented the company, said outside the courthouse after the settlement was reached.
Dominion also has ongoing defamation lawsuits against Newsmax and One America News Network, conservative outlets that prominently promoted lies about the 2020 election. Smartmatic, another voting company, is also suing many of the same figures and has its own $2.7bn defamation suit against Fox and its own cases against many of the same defendants.
In order to win, Dominion will have to clear the high bar of showing that those responsible for making the defamatory statement knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Dominion built an unusually strong case against Fox, producing reams of evidence showing that executives and top hosts knew the claims about the election were false. The strength of its Fox case doesn’t necessarily mean it will have an ironclad case against OAN and Newsmax, said Anthony Glassman, a defamation lawyer.
“There is no way to know whether you’re likely to get as strong a sense of the internal operations of each company as you did from Fox. Each company most likely operates in very different ways which may provide them with different defenses and make it more of a challenge to win,” he said.
The cases against the individuals are at once both more simple and potentially more challenging than the ones against the news networks. Dominion only needs to show the individuals disregarded the truth and made false statements. But it may be harder to produce a paper trail showing that they genuinely knew what they were saying was false or recklessly disregarded the truth.
“The trove of high-profile damning evidence – that key folks at Fox knew the election wasn’t stolen and thought the Dominion statements were ‘crazy’ – becomes less relevant,” said RonNell Andersen Jones, a first amendment scholar at the University of Utah. “Dominion needs evidence that Guilani and Powell themselves either knew it was false or recklessly disregarded its falsity. We haven’t yet gotten a full look at what it might have gathered on that front.”
Evidence is already emerging suggesting that at least Giuliani and Powell knew that their statements were false. In the Fox case, Dominion obtained an email in which one of Powell’s sources, who had no expertise in election administration, falsely claimed Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff and Diane Feinstein’s husband had an interest in Dominion and that the machines were flipping votes for Biden. The source claimed she had visions and said Antonin Scalia was murdered. She acknowledged some of what she had written was “wackadoodle”, but Powell passed it on to Fox host Maria Bartiromo, who asked Powell about similar claims on her show shortly thereafter.
Abby Grossberg, a former Fox employee suing the network, also released a recording she made of Giuliani on 8 November 2020 in which he admits he doesn’t yet have evidence to support some of the outlandish claims he’s making about Dominion.
Here’s a look at where Dominion’s cases stand:
Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell
Dominion separately filed suit against Giuliani, Powell and Lindell in federal district court in Washington DC. Giuliani and Powell represented Trump in court after the election, filing numerous lawsuits based on easily disprovable claims of fraud. Lindell is the CEO of MyPillow – the company is also named as a defendant in the suit – and a Trump ally who became one of the most prominent funders of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The company is seeking more than $1.3bn in damages from each. It is also seeking a court order against Powell and Lindell forcing them to remove any statements ultimately proven to be false and defamatory and blocking them from making any further false statements about Dominion.
In August, US district judge Carl Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee, declined to dismiss the case against all three.
Discovery in the case is ongoing (Lindell has tried to avoid complying with it) and will be completed in September. Nichols has set a February conference, to set a trial date, which could come as soon as the middle of next year.
Dominion is suing the former Overstock.com CEO, one of the biggest funders and propagators of election misinformation, for defamation in federal court in Washington DC. The company is seeking $1.6bn in damages as well as $1.3m in other expenses related to Byrne’s false claims about the election.
The complaint, filed in August 2021, specifically cites Byrne’s efforts to produce a report analyzing data in Antrim county, Michigan, that falsely claimed Dominion machines were flipping votes. The document became a key source for those who made false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Byrne was also a key funder of a widely-criticized review of votes in Maricopa county, Arizona, that further sowed doubt about Dominion equipment, but ultimately affirmed Biden’s victory there.
“After the election, Byrne manufactured and promoted fake evidence to convince the world that the 2020 election had been stolen as part of a massive international conspiracy among China, Venezuelan and Spanish companies, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), prominent Republicans, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Dominion, which, Byrne falsely claimed, committed fraud and helped steal the 2020 presidential election,” the complaint says.
Nichols allowed the case to go forward last year.
Discovery is scheduled to be completed later this year. A trial date has not yet been set, but could take place as soon as the middle of next year.
Dominion is suing Newsmax in Delaware superior court for broadcasting false claims about the company after the 2020 election that are similar to the ones Fox broadcast. The case is being overseen by Eric Davis, the same judge who oversaw the company’s case against Fox. Dominion is seeking $1.6bn in damages, plus an additional $1.3m it says it had to spend on security and combating the false claims put out about the company.
“Newsmax made the intentional and knowing choice to depict – and then publicize, endorse and fuel – the lies about Dominion as truth, creating and promoting an alternate reality that duped millions of Americans into believing that Dominion stole the 2020 election from President Trump,” the complaint, filed in August 2021, says. “It repeatedly broadcast the lies of facially unreliable sources – lies which Newsmax itself adopted, endorsed, promoted and manufactured. And it acted this way because the lies attracted Trump’s public stamp of approval, attention and admiration, along with huge ratings boosts and profit windfalls.”
Davis declined to dismiss the case last year. “The complaint supports the reasonable inference that Newsmax either knew its statements about Dominion’s role in the election fraud were false or had a high degree of awareness that they were false,” he wrote in June.
In 2021, Newsmax apologized to Eric Coomer, a Dominion employee, who it falsely said had rigged votes
Discovery in the case is ongoing.
One America News Network
Dominion sued OANN in federal court in Washington, alleging that the company embraced and broadcast outlandish claims about the company in an effort to position itself as an alternative to Fox.
“Spurred by a quest for profits and viewers, OAN – a competitor to media giant Fox – engaged in a race to the bottom with Fox and other outlets such as Newsmax to spread false and manufactured stories about election fraud,” Dominion lawyers wrote in their complaint, filed in August of 2021.
“Dominion quickly became the focus of this downward spiral of lies, as each broadcaster attempted to outdo the others by making the lies more outrageous, spreading them further and endorsing them as strongly as possible.”
Nichols, who is also overseeing the case, declined to dismiss the case last November. Discovery is ongoing. A trial date has not yet been set, but it could take place some time next year.
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