(NEW YORK) — With less than one month until a trial is set to begin in the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, attorneys from both sides are expected to seek a summary judgment during a pretrial hearing Tuesday.
The Delaware judge overseeing the case will hear arguments from both Fox and Dominion attorneys on their respective motions for summary judgments, during which both parties will essentially ask the judge to rule on the case before it heads to trial.
Dominion filed its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News in March 2021, accusing the network of knowingly pushing false conspiracy theories about the voting machine company in the wake of the 2020 election, in order to combat “concerns” over ratings and viewer retention.
Dan Abrams, ABC News’ chief legal analyst, said it would be a long shot for either side to win its motions at this phase, given the overwhelming amount of evidence.
“A motion for summary judgment is a difficult motion to win. It’s basically asking a judge to intervene and say, ‘There’s no need to take this case to a jury,'” Abrams said. “I wouldn’t expect that either party is going to win this case in summary judgment.”
The trial is set to being on April 17.
In its filings, Dominion wrote that “Fox knew. From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total BS.'”
“Yet despite knowing the truth — or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth — Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as ‘crazy,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘shockingly reckless,'” the filing said.
“Fox duped its audience. And Dominion paid the price,” Dominion wrote, while acknowledging the “heavy burden” it faces in proving its claims.
Ahead of the hearing, Dominion has submitted bombshell filings containing hundreds of emails, texts, testimony and other private communications from some of Fox’s biggest stars and executives privately bashing former President Donald Trump and his election fraud claims while continuing to broadcast them on air.
“I did not believe it for one second,” said Sean Hannity in regard to one of Trump’s attorney’s claims, according to one of Dominion’s filings.
In response, Fox has slammed Dominion’s lawsuit as an “an assault on the First Amendment and the free press,” and has defended its airing of Trump’s “undeniably newsworthy” voter fraud allegations and election challenges.
“As long as the press makes clear that the allegations are just allegations and not demonstrable facts, both constitutional and common-law principles protect the right of the press to allow the President’s lawyers to explain their factual allegations and legal theories, as well as the right of the press to express opinions about those claims,” Fox wrote in its own motion for summary judgment.
A Fox News attorney told ABC News that their plan Tuesday was to make the broad first amendment argument that there is no defamation — but that they would also go through many of the individual programs on Fox News, one by one, in hopes of showing that they were not making false statements of fact.
The judge, the Fox attorney said, has the ability to narrow the scope of what proceeds to trial.
At a hearing earlier this month, Judge Eric M. Davis appeared to be readying for trial. He indicated preparations for a jury were already underway, saying that 1,800 jury notices were sent out informing potential jurors that it would be a six-week trial.
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