Judge rejects Newsmax bid to narrow Smartmatic lawsuit over 2020 US election

Houston hosts NRA convention days after school massacre

By Tom Hals and Helen Coster

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) -A Delaware judge on Wednesday rejected Newsmax Media's bid to narrow the allegedly defamatory statements that the right-wing U.S. television network must defend in a lawsuit by voting machine company Smartmatic USA involving the 2020 presidential election.

Smartmatic, whose U.S. headquarters is in Boca Raton, Florida, sued Newsmax in November 2021, saying the network should be held accountable for knowingly spreading false claims that the company rigged the election against Republican then-President Donald Trump, who lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

After the original lawsuit was filed, Smartmatic amended its complaint to add 26 additional statements it said were defamatory, such as statements aired by the network that Smartmatic machines could have been hacked.

Newsmax had argued that the statute of limitations had passed and that it was too late to add allegedly defamatory statements to the amended complaint.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis in his ruling said the additional statements fell within the themes of the original complaint and stemmed from the network's coverage of the election, so he allowed them.

Newsmax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Smartmatic did not say in its lawsuit how much money it was seeking in damages from Newsmax, but said election conspiracy theories have erased $2 billion in value from the company.

The company also has sued San Diego-based One America News in federal court in Washington and New York-based Fox News, its parent Fox Corp and several Fox hosts in a New York state court over similar claims.

Fox Corp and Fox News in April settled a similar defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems on the eve of trial in the same Delaware court for $787.5 million.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Will Dunham and Chizu Nomiyama)