• Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News reached an agreement to settle a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit just hours before the case was to go to trial.
  • Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million as part of the settlement, and Fox News Media has acknowledged the court’s rulings that claims made about Dominion were false.
  • The media company said in a statement to Newsweek that the settlement reflects Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards.

Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News ended with a last-minute settlement Tuesday, just hours before the case was to go to trial.

Lawyers for Dominion and Fox reached the agreement right before opening statements in the case, which was expected to result in one of the most significant media trials in decades. The verdict could have dealt a huge blow to Fox or handed the conservative network a major legal victory.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis called the stunning development the “best lawyering” he’s ever seen, CBS News’ Scott MacFarlane reported from the Wilmington, Delaware, courtroom.

Speaking outside the courthouse, a Dominion lawyer said that Fox News agreed to pay the voting machine company $787.5 million for the false claims that anchors and guests made on the network about Dominion and its role in alleged election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and our customers. Nothing can ever make up for that,” Dominion CEO John Poulos told Newsweek in a statement.

He continued: “Truthful reporting in the media is essential to our democracy. Dominion, our employees and our partners are grateful to the court for allowing the process for the truth to come out. I cannot thank the election officials that we serve enough. Without them, there is no democracy, and they work tirelessly to that end and deserve much better.”

Judge Praises Fox News, Dominion Lawyers Settlement
During a lunch break Tuesday, members of the legal team representing Dominion Voting Systems leave Wilmington’s Leonard Williams Justice Center where Dominion was suing Fox News in Delaware Superior Court. Later in the day, a settlement in the case was announced.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The jury had just officially been selected, and as the court waited for the start of the opening arguments at 1:30 p.m. ET, a roughly two-and-a-half-hour delay led to speculation that the two sides had settled.

Returning to the bench around 4 p.m., Davis announced the news and thanked the jurors, telling them, “Without you, the parties wouldn’t have been able to resolve their situation.”

Shortly before the agreement, Davis had appointed a special master to investigate Fox’s handling of discovery of documents. Nearly a week earlier, the judge had criticized the company for not turning over evidence in a timely manner.

Davis had also ruled that it would be up to Dominion to convince jurors that there was “actual malice” in Fox’s decision to air the false claims. The judge said that while he agreed the statements were lies, Dominion needed to prove that the network knowingly aired those lies or that there was “reckless disregard” as to whether the statements were true or false.

In a statement announcing the settlement, Fox News Media, the parent company of Fox News, acknowledged the court’s ruling that the claims about Dominion were false.

“This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards,” Fox News Media said in a statement shared with Newsweek. “We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.”

Update, 04/18/23, 4:56 p.m. ET: This story was updated with more background and information.