Viet Dinh, Fox’s top lawyer who oversaw its $787 million Dominion settlement, is stepping down

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CNN
 — 

Fox Corporation on Friday said its top lawyer, Viet Dinh, will exit the company in a significant shakeup to its corporate ranks in the aftermath of the company’s historic $787 million settlement with election technology company Dominion Voting Systems.

“We appreciate Viet’s many contributions and service to FOX as both a board member of 21st Century Fox and in his role over the last five years as a valued member of FOX’s leadership team,” said Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive of Fox Corporation, in a statement. “We are grateful that he will continue to serve FOX as Special Advisor where we will benefit from his counsel.”

According to an SEC filing on Friday, Dinh will receive a $23 million cash settlement and will be paid $5 million for a two-year term as special adviser.

Dinh was said to have a close relationship with Lachlan Murdoch, joining the company as chief legal and policy officer in 2018. His departure comes after he was widely criticized for his handling of Dominion’s monster defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its airing of lies about the 2020 election.

“I have been privileged to be part of the Fox family for over two decades as a director and officer, and I have especially treasured my relationships with Rupert, Lachlan and our talented colleagues over the years,” Dinh said in a statement.

Legal scholars were surprised that Fox Corporation had allowed the lawsuit to get so close to a trial, settling only in the final moments after a jury was seated. Since Fox Corporation did not settle the lawsuit before it entered more mature stages, the company was forced to participate in the discovery process, which produced embarrassing messages from the Murdoch family, which controls Fox, and other senior executives and hosts.

Dinh is the latest senior executive to depart after the historic Dominion settlement. Raj Shah, a senior communications executive, exited the company earlier this year.

Fox also fired host Lou Dobbs in 2021 after another voting technology company, Smartmatic, filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against him and the network after he espoused conspiracy theories on the air.

Days after Fox settled the lawsuit with Dominion early this year, the company fired its star prime time host, the right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson. Reporting from several news outlets has indicated that some of Carlson’s communications, redacted in the court filings, played a crucial role in Fox’s decisions to sever ties with him, though Fox and Dominion both deny it was related to the massive settlement.

Dominion is just one of several high-profile lawsuits Fox has settled this year over its airing of false election conspiracy theories in 2020.

In June, the network settled a lawsuit brought by former producer Abby Grossberg for $12 million. Grossberg had accused Fox News of pressuring her into giving false testimony in Dominion’s defamation case against the network, and of fostering a deeply misogynist workplace. She had sued Fox News, its parent company, Carlson and several senior executives.

Fox also settled a defamation lawsuit brought by a Venezuelan businessman who had accused the network of making false claims about him and the 2020 election. The details of that settlement were not made public.

In the SEC filing Friday, Fox reported it had paid a total of $894 million in legal settlement costs in 2023, a higher figure than had been previously known.

While the network has put a number of major defamation cases behind it at great cost, the largest lawsuit in the wake of the election — brought by Smartmatic — is still pending and expected to go to trial in 2025.

Smartmatic lawyer Erik Connolly told CNN earlier this year it is “looking to take this case through trial” and wants “the vindication of a jury verdict in their favor.”

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