NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York state appeals court has denied Fox News’ request to dismiss a multibillion-dollar libel lawsuit accusing the network of falsely accusing a voting systems company electronics of helping to rig the 2020 US presidential election to favor Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
In a 5-0 ruling, the Manhattan Appeals Division said Smartmatic USA alleged in “detail” how Fox News and certain presenters and guests “actually endorsed and participated in (the defamation) with reckless disregard or serious doubts as to” whether the company involved in electoral fraud.
Smartmatic had sought $2.7 billion in damages, saying Fox News knowingly lied about its technology and how it was used to boost ratings and prevent Trump supporters from defecting to the right-wing networks Newsmax and One America News.
Fox News has long said that its job is to inform the public and that airing allegations of fraud is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Tuesday’s decision allows Smartmatic to continue its lawsuits against Fox News, host Maria Bartiromo and former host Lou Dobbs.
It also reinstated some previously dismissed claims against Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor who worked as Trump’s attorney, and the Smartmatic case against host Jeanine Pirro.
Fox News, whose attorneys also represented the hosts, said it expected to prevail in the lawsuit.
“There is nothing more newsworthy than covering up the President of the United States and his lawyers making allegations of voter fraud,” he said. “Freedom of the press is fundamental to our democracy and must be protected, in addition to claims for damages that are outrageous, unsubstantiated and not grounded in sound financial analysis.”
Giuliani’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Smartmatic said it provided election technology only to Los Angeles County, which Biden won.
“We look forward to holding Fox News and the other defendants accountable in court,” his attorney J. Erik Connolly said.
Tuesday’s ruling upheld much of a March 2022 ruling by state Supreme Court Justice David Cohen.
Another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, is pursuing a similar $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News in Delaware.
The case is Smartmatic USA Corp et al v Fox Corp et al, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1st Department, No. 2022-01291.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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