Verdicts & Settlements

Lawyers likely to see large payouts in $787.5M Fox defamation case

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An exterior view of the News Corp. Building and Fox News headquarters in New York City on Feb. 28. Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via the Associated Press.

At least 31 lawyers from nine different law firms were involved in Dominion Voting Systems’ two-year defamation lawsuit against the Fox Corp., which ended this week with a $787.5 million settlement.

Reuters reports that Dominion—which said Fox News falsely claimed that its voting machines were involved in a conspiracy to help President Joe Biden win the 2020 election—amassed about $12.2 million in legal costs from November 2020 through October 2022. Reuters, which cited court filings, adds that this doesn’t include recent costs, such as those involved in preparing for trial or the settlement.

Susman Godfrey, one of the firms that represented Dominion, was hired on a contingency basis, according to Reuters, which also reports that the firm pioneered the use of contingency fees in business litigation. While Reuters said it wasn’t clear how much Susman Godfrey would receive in legal fees in this case, the firm has garnered fees as high as one-third of a settlement in past cases.

Stephen Shackelford, a partner at Susman Godfrey and lead litigator for Dominion, declined to discuss the terms of the firm’s work for Dominion, Bloomberg Law reports. However, Shackelford told Bloomberg Law that the case has been “well over 100%” of his caseload since Dominion filed the suit in 2021.

Dominion was also represented by the firm Clare Locke in Virginia and Farnan in Delaware, according to Bloomberg Law.

Reuters reports that Winston & Strawn and DLA Piper represented Fox News and parent company the Fox Corp. Two partners led each team, which included multiple associates. In other cases, according to Reuters, partners at corporate firms have billed more than $2,000 per hour.

Fox News also hired former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, top appeals court lawyers who have previously advocated for conservative issues at the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Reuters.

Bloomberg Law, citing court filings, reports that Lehotsky Keller; Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey; and Richards, Layton & Finger additionally represented Fox.

See also: “Suit by Fox News producer alleges BigLaw lawyers and others pressured her to give evasive testimony”

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