STORY: A Delaware judge ruled on Friday that a jury will decide if Fox News defamed Dominion Voting Systems... when it aired false claims of vote-rigging in the 2020 election.
The ruling is a setback for Fox - which had sought to avoid a trial in the $1.6 billion lawsuit - putting the high-profile case in the hands of a jury that will determine whether Fox acted with actual malice and whether Dominion suffered any damages.
Dominion said it looked forward to the trial.
In a statement, Fox said it will (quote) “…continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings.”
Dominion sued Fox Corp and Fox News in 2021, accusing them of ruining its reputation by airing false claims by former President Donald Trump and his lawyers that its voting machines were used to rig the outcome of the presidential election.
Dominion has said in court filings that internal emails, texts and deposition testimony demonstrate that Fox personnel knew at every level - all the way up to Chairman Rupert Murdoch - that the election-rigging claims were false and aired them anyway in pursuit of ratings.
The judge ruled in Dominion's favor on some elements of defamation... and said it's (quote) "CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.”
The judge also ruled that Fox could not use the "neutral reportage" defense - which holds that the press cannot be held liable for publishing newsworthy allegations in a neutral way.
The trial is scheduled for April 17 and is expected to last about four weeks.