A judge has ruled that voting machine manufacturer Smartmatic can proceed with a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and Rudy Giuliani. The company has accused them and others of making false claims that it rigged votes in favor of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Fox News parent Fox Corp, anchor Maria Bartiromo, former anchor Lou Dobbs, The Five host Jeanine Pirro and ex-Donald Trump lawyer Sidney Powell all tried to have Smartmatic's claims against them dismissed. Justice David Cohen of New York State Supreme Court dismissed the claims against Pirro and Powell, though rejected the bids from Fox Corp, Bartiromo and Dobbs.
Smartmatic claimed Fox News made up a story about helping Biden to steal the presidency from Trump to boost ratings. A lawyer for the company said Fox News caused "catastrophic damage" to Smartmatic's business and reputation, according to Reuters.
Cohen ruled that Fox News "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." He also said Giuliani accused Smartmatic of rigging elections in Venezuela and claimed it engaged in "old tricks" in the presidential election, which provided grounds for Smartmatic to proceed with some of its claims against the former Trump lawyer.
Fox News called Smartmatic's claims "baseless," adding that it's "gratified that Judge Cohen dismissed Smartmatic’s claims against Jeanine Pirro." It plans to appeal Cohen's ruling "immediately," and counterclaim for fees and costs to "prevent the full-blown assault on the First Amendment" that it perceives the lawsuit to be.
In December, a judge dismissed an attempt by Fox News to toss out a lawsuit by another voting machine maker. Dominion Voting Systems has accused Fox News of defamation in its $1.6 billion suit.
Update 3/10 11:24AM ET: Added more context regarding Fox News' statement.