Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems reached a $787.5 million settlement agreement Tuesday afternoon, the parties announced, avoiding a trial.
via Fox News:
“Fox has admitted to telling lies,” John Poulos, Dominion CEO, said in a press conference after the trial was ended.
“Money is accountability,” said Stephen Shackelford, Jr., the attorney scheduled to give opening statements for Dominion on Tuesday.
Fox News also put out a statement.
“We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards,” the Fox statement said. “We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.”
The resolution came after the jury had been sat but before opening statements began.
“The parties have resolved their case,” Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said Tuesday afternoon, informing the jurors of the settlement. “That your service is done and I’m going to excuse you. Sorry about making you wait.”
The deal ends a monthslong legal battle over whether the media company had defamed the voting machine maker when they broadcast election conspiracy theories in 2020.
The terms of the settlement were not immediately available.
Lawyers and media sat waiting in the courtroom for more than two hours after opening statements were scheduled to begin on Tuesday afternoon. Davis reentered the courtroom just before 4 p.m. to announce the settlement with the lead attorneys on the case rushing in after him.
Dominion sued Fox News in 2021, demanding $1.6 billion in damages. They said the network defamed it when it broadcast baseless claims that it was tied to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, that it paid kickbacks to politicians and that its machines “rigged” the 2020 presidential election by flipping millions of votes for Trump to Biden.
Late Sunday, the court delayed the conclusion of jury selection and opening arguments to Tuesday morning, leading to speculation that settlement talks could be taking place behind closed doors.
The settlement comes after a bruising week for Fox News. During pretrial conference hearings, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis sanctioned them for withholding evidence, admonished them for not being straightforward with him. He said he would allow Dominion to conduct an additional deposition with Rupert Murdoch at Fox’s expense. Davis also ruled that Fox lawyers could not use newsworthiness as a legal defense, limiting their possible trial strategies.
On Tuesday, Davis also appointed a special master to investigate whether Fox had adequately complied with court-ordered discovery. That investigation
Few defamation suits make it this far, but legal experts say the case — and the extraordinary claims and evidence fueling it — was unique.
Legal filings made thousands of pages of emails, text messages, and other communications public, revealing that Fox News journalists, hosts, and executives knew the bogus claims about the election were false, even as the network continued to put them on air.
That’s a lot of money.