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Fox settles defamation lawsuit from Venezuelan businessman over broadcast tying him to Dominion election claim

Lou Dobbs, via screengrab/Fox Business; Majed Khalil, courtesy Sigmund S. Wissner-Gross

Lou Dobbs, via screengrab/Fox Business; Majed Khalil, courtesy Sigmund S. Wissner-Gross

A Venezuelan business has settled with his defamation lawsuit against Fox News Network and former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs for their coverage of him and voting software companies Dominion and Smartmatic.

In a complaint filed in New York federal court, Majed Khalil sued the Fox Corporation, Fox News Network LLC, Lou Dobbs, and attorney Sidney Powell over a Dec. 10, 2020, broadcast and related Twitter posts. Khalil’s legal team alleged that the interview and related social media promotion disseminated a “lie totally devoid of reality,” vilifying him as one of four people who worked with Dominion and Smartmatic to “rig or fix the results” of the election in favor of President Joe Biden.

Powell succeeded in dismissing the claims against her. Fox News and Dobbs hoped to follow suit by claiming that they were engaging in fair and neutral reporting — and by asserting that the statements of opinion were not actionable.

But U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton brushed aside those defenses in a scathing ruling last year, noting several elections experts had found “no credible evidence” of election fraud when the broadcasts aired.

“Here, Defendants repeatedly maintained their claims about Khalil long after Powell’s election fraud theories were challenged,” his 26-page opinion and order states. “Numerous reports that declared the falsity of the claims against Dominion and Smartmatic and rejected Powell as an accurate source of information gave Defendants reasons to doubt Powell’s veracity and the accuracy of her reports. While the complaint does not allege that the Khalil himself informed Defendants of the falsity of the claims against him, both Smartmatic and Dominion did so. Falsity of the claims against both companies would necessitate falsity of the claims against Plaintiff. Several government agencies stated that there was no evidence of fraud in the election, and even then-President Trump supporters rejected Powell’s accusations.”

Now the court fight is over.

“The parties are pleased to jointly inform the Court that they have reached a confidential agreement to resolve this matter,” Fox attorney K. Winn Allen wrote in a Saturday letter to Stanton co-signed by Khalil attorney Sigmund S. Wissner-Gross. “The parties anticipate filing a joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice early next week.”

Attorneys for Khalil did not immediately respond to Law&Crime.

“This matter has been resolved amicably by both sides,” a Fox News spokesperson told Law&Crime in an email. “We have no further comment.”

Jury selection for Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against Fox is scheduled to start this week.

More Law&Crime Coverage: Dominion wins rare judgment against Fox News on every legal issue but actual malice before blockbuster trial

Adam Klasfeld contributed to this report. 

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