A person walks past Fox News Headquarters at the News Corporation building on May 03, 2022 in New York City.
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Dominion Voting Systems is calling out Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp, for failing to turn over evidence, with less than two months before the companies are set to go to trial over a defamation lawsuit.
On Wednesday, attorneys for Dominion and Fox met before a Delaware Superior Court judge to discuss scheduling for upcoming checkpoints.
However, an attorney for Dominion said they are concerned that some evidence – such as certain board meeting minutes and the results of searches of personal drives – has yet to be produced by Fox and its cable TV networks. While this issue was already raised in July and January, the Dominion attorney said Wednesday they are still missing documents.
“We have not gotten anything. We pointed out categories of missing documents for both Fox News and Fox Corp that are still missing. And we are not talking about a document slipping through … we are talking about categories of documents,” said Dominion attorney Justin Nelson on Wednesday.
Nelson said Dominion’s attorneys had been assured that Fox’s legal team would “ask the hard questions about missing documents so that we didn’t have to do it and engage in further discovery practice.”
“And that just hasn’t happened,” Nelson said, “and I understand why because they can’t do it.”
Fox attorney Dan Webb, a veteran trial attorney added to Fox’s roster last year, said he disagreed with much of what Nelson said during the hearing Wednesday.
“The parties are having problems on both sides,” Webb said Wednesday. “I think 70,000 documents were recently produced on damages, which is a huge issue in this case, that were late produced.”
Dominion brought the defamation lawsuit against Fox and its right-wing cable news networks, Fox News and Fox Business, seeking $1.6 billion in damages. It argues the networks and their anchors made false claims that Dominion’s voting machines rigged the results of the 2020 election.
Both attorneys acknowledged that Fox sent a letter to the special master Tuesday night regarding the matter. The Delaware judge on Wednesday didn’t weigh in further.
Dominion’s attorney Nelson refuted any issues Fox raised about Dominion’s production of documents in the case. “As best as I can tell, Dominion has still produced more documents than Fox in this case,” Nelson said.
In recent months, Fox Corp executives including Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son and Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch have faced questioning as part of the lawsuit.
Meanwhile Fox’s TV personalities, including Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have also appeared for depositions.
Hannity reportedly admitted he didn’t believe Dominion cheated Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election, which Democrat Joe Biden won. The reported statements differ from the claims made on Hannity’s show following the election.
Documents and depositions have otherwise remained private. The New York Times recently requested that the documents in the case be unsealed.
Fox has vigorously denied the claims in the lawsuit that is being watched closely by First Amendment watchdogs and experts. Libel lawsuits are typically centered around one falsehood. But in this case Dominion cites a lengthy list of examples of Fox TV hosts making false claims even after they were shown to be untrue. Media companies are often broadly protected by the First Amendment.
Fox’s calls to dismiss the case have been denied by the court. A trial is slated to begin April 17. Neither side has shown signs of entering settlement talks. Dominion’s attorney said Wednesday the legal team, which had hoped for an earlier trial date, doesn’t want it moved any later despite the issue with evidence production.
“We are put in this impossible situation of preparing for trial where there are missing documents,” Nelson said.
Also Wednesday, Fox posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings bolstered by strong ad revenue. Class A shares of the company rose more than 3%.
Correction: This story was updated to clarify what Dominion’s attorney said about his client’s document disclosure.