In New York, a state court ruled on Tuesday that Smartmatic could pursue its $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit alleging that Fox News Network, Rudolph Giuliani, and others falsely claimed that the maker of electronic voting systems had helped rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election in favor of Democrat Joe Biden.
New York Supreme Court Justice David Cohen rejected the requests of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation (FOXA.O), anchor Maria Bartiromo, and former anchor Lou Dobbs for dismissal of Smartmatic’s claims against them.
Moreover, Cohen revealed that Smartmatic could pursue some claims against Giuliani, who worked as an attorney for former Republican President Donald Trump. The judge dismissed all claims against former Trump attorney Sidney Powell and Fox host Jeanine Pirro.
According to Smartmatic, the defendants fabricated a story alleging that its technology helped Biden steal the 2020 election from Trump using its technology.
It said Fox News did this to boost ratings and to take advantage of Trump supporters while avoiding losing viewers to smaller, right-wing networks Newsmax and One America News.
The company said it only provided technology to Los Angeles County, where Biden won.
The judge did not rule on the merits, but did find that Fox News may have “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.”
Cohen said Giuliani’s “barrage” of criticism of Smartmatic, which he said fixed elections in Venezuela and committed “old tricks” on election night, sufficed to let some claims against him go forward.
However, the judge ruled that a supposed misstatement by Pirro was not defamatory and that he did not have jurisdiction over Powell.
Similar litigation is being pursued by Dominion Voting Systems. Its $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News was not dismissed in Delaware in December by a judge.
According to a statement from Fox News on behalf of the defendants, Smartmatic’s claims are “baseless.”
Fox News said it will also file a counter-suit for fees and costs “to prevent the full-blown assault on the First Amendment which stands in stark contrast to the highest tradition of American journalism.”
In a statement, Howard Kleinhendler, Powell’s lawyer, said that he is “confident that any subsequent litigation by Smartmatic or others will reach the same result.” Giuliani’s lawyers did not respond immediately.
The lawyer for Smartmatic, J. Erik Connolly, claimed that Fox News had caused “catastrophic damage” to his client’s reputation and business. “This lawsuit will help to undo that damage,” he argued.
151136/2021 is the case number in Smartmatic USA Corp et al. v Fox Corp et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County.
Last month, Powell sued Verizon to stop records and data from being disclosed to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.
A subpoena was issued in January 2022 by the House Select Committee to Investigations January 6th against several close allies of the former president, including his former attorney Sidney Powell, who is a Texas member of the bar with a Dallas office.
It asked Powell if she had any evidence to support Trump’s claims of election fraud in its letter to her.
Court documents state that Powell also maintains that Verizon’s phone records that were subpoenaed in connection with the Jan. 6 investigation shouldn’t be made public due to the attorney-client privilege and a violation of her First Amendment rights.
The attorney for Powell says his client had “no involvement in the events of January 6th, yet the DOJ is seeking records that contain client privileges held by numerous clients.”
In addition, the lawsuit asserts that subpoena of Verizon’s phone records on Feb. 4 violated the Stored Communications Act, which says an electronic provider “shall not knowingly divulge to any person or entity the contents of a communication while in electronic storage to that service.”
Additionally, it is alleged that the subpoena violates the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by searching for the “contents of a communication while in electronic storage” without the authorization of Powell or the law.
Moreover, Powell believes her First Amendment rights have been violated as the subpoena is too broad and there is no way a “governmental interest could be sufficiently compelling to permit it to delve through every phone call place or received” by Powell over the course of three months.
Additionally, the lawsuit asserts that the subpoena is an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
At the end of the day, Powell’s lawsuit claims Verizon is acting beyond the company’s authority, and that the subpoena it is being served is both unlawful and unenforceable.
In January, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected Trump’s bid to withhold the documents from a congressional panel until the case is resolved by the courts.
It had been Trump’s lawyers’ hope that court proceedings would be prolonged and documents would remain on hold.