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Despite Fox “Retraction,” $2.7B Defamation Lawsuit Will Proceed

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February 10, 2021

Just eight weeks after demanding a retraction for a barrage of allegedly false statements about “vote rigging” and the part the company played in the November election, Smartmatic has filed a $2.7 billion defamation and disparagement lawsuit against Fox Corporation and Fox News Network LLC. Also named as defendants are Fox tv news personalities Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, and sometime Fox guest commentators Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, both of whom also represented the Trump campaign in post-election legal challenges.

The December 10 demand letter, addressed to Lily Fu Claffee as general counsel of Fox News Network, did get some results, including the airing of an interview with an expert from the nonprofit Open Source Election Technology Institute, which undercut the stolen-election narrative. It  ran on several Fox programs, but apparently did not satisfy the letter’s demands, which all parties would likely acknowledge were a tall order, given the degree to which that narrative was pushed by Fox. (“This retraction,” the demand letter said, “must be done with the same intensity and level of coverage that you used to defame the company in the first place.”)

The January 4 Summons and Complaint, which includes, verbatim, numerous claims from the defendants along with rebuttals, runs to almost 300 pages. It asks for compensatory damages, punitive damages, other costs and attorneys’ fees, interest, declarative and injunctive relief, as well as actual, consequential and special damages “in an amount to be determined at trial, but no less than $ 2.7 billion.” Listed plaintiff counsel are Chicago attorneys J. Erik Connolly, who was sole named attorney on the  December 10 demand letter, and Nicole E. Wrigley, both from law firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff; and New York attorney Edward C. Wipper from Kishner Miller Himes. The lawsuit was filed in New York state court.

 

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