Happy Fox Trial Day to All Who Celebrate

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And now we know: there was no last-minute deal to settle the Dominion defamation case against Fox News. Jury selection is currently underway. Yesterday, I said I had some question over whether Dominion’s decision not to present a claim about the loss of future profits might signal that they were clearing the way for a settlement. Apparently not.

I should note that I did hear from a number of lawyers yesterday who said that they interpreted this as most likely a matter of Dominion focusing its trial strategy now that they know a lot more about what the trial, with the benefit of discovery and the judge’s decisions, is going to look like.

Another lawyer reader clarified that while Delaware law puts no limit on punitive damages, the Supreme Court has. That ruling is generally interpreted to mean that punitive damages cannot be more than nine times compensatory damages. So that is an important clarification.

That said, Dominion’s claim of damages seems to be over $1 billion. So that nine-times limit still creates plenty of room for a devastating damage award.

The fact that no settlement was possible seems to confirm what has generally been understood: that Dominion is insisting on damages in the neighborhood of their public claim (over one billion dollars) and insisting on apologies and on air public statements that are not only galling but hold the risk of lasting damage with Fox’s viewers.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the parties can come to a settlement during the trial as well. So it could still happen. But it looks like we’re going to go through the whole sordid mess.

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