San Diego-based One America News Network is suing Dominion Voting Systems, AT&T and others, alleging “tortious interference” with its business.
Filed last Friday in D.C. federal court, the so-called counterclaim targets Dominion, which is suing OAN owner Herring Networks for $1.6 billion in a defamation case.
Another target is AT&T, which OAN also is suing in San Diego Superior Court for breach of contract — dropping the right-wing outlet from its DirecTV channel lineup (at great financial loss to the Herrings).
Meanwhile, District Judge Carl J. Nichols in Washington has ordered OAN and Dominion to meet and confer on issues including whether “a realistic possibility” exists of settling the original case, filed in August 2021.
As with the San Diego suit against AT&T, OAN in the counterclaim is going after AT&T board Chairman William Kennard.
He and the others “are not satisfied with trying to extract a pound of flesh,” wrote attorney Blaine Kimrey for Herring Networks. “They are clearly focused on trying to use their lawsuits and their disparagement of conservative voices to punish dissenting speech and drive it from the marketplace of ideas in an improper and tortious fashion.”
Besides Herring, also calling for a jury trial are OAN Washington correspondent Chanel Rion and former OAN reporter Christina Bobb, the SDSU grad now working as a lawyer for Donald Trump.
The counterclaim says Kennard was motivated to use his influence at AT&T to induce DirecTV not to continue its carriage of OAN, “to the benefit of Kennard, Staple Street and Counterclaim Defendants and to the detriment of OAN — as well as the detriment of AT&T, which no longer receives advertising revenue from OAN.”
The defendants “acted with intent, malice and willful disregard for Herring’s rights through a wrongful act (Kennard’s fiduciary breach) in attempting to undermine Herring’s business relationships and destroy the company,” the counterclaim said.
The Herrings want unspecified monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages. And “such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper.”
The counterclaim was first reported Thursday by Above the Law, whose Baltimore-based writer Liz Dye characterizes the 36-page countersuit as an “uphill swim.”
Herring “filed more or less the exact same lawsuit they filed in California, with the same whining about John Oliver and Brian Stelter,” Dye writes, “only this time they allege tortious interference with business expectancy instead of breach of contract.”
She asked: “How could DirecTV and AT&T tortiously interfere in their own business relationship with OAN?”
Dye also declared: “This is craziness on par with the time OAN host Chanel Rion claimed that octogenarian philanthropist George Soros was personally tailing her and Rudy Giuliani as they shambled around Eastern Europe digging up dirt on Joe Biden. Yet here it is, another insultingly stupid complaint, vomited up onto the federal docket with the aid of lawyers from a prominent, coat factory law firm.”
Herring lawyer Kimrey is saving a few dollars by not having to send complaint paperwork (and prepaid mailer) to Staple Street Capital, which bought Dominion in 2018. Kennard is also Staple Street’s executive board chairman.
The OAN counterclaim adds that the new defendants “have flouted the First Amendment in acting unlawfully to try to destroy a company based on [their] viewpoint discrimination, political power, backroom handshake shenanigans and improper manipulation of governmental influence.”
Dustin Pusch, an attorney for Staple Street, said Thursday he understood he must file an answer to the counterclaim by April 4.