A lawsuit against the Fox News executive who fired former Fox correspondent John Moody has been sent back to trial by a judge in Delaware.
Judge Katherine B Cobb told Fox on Tuesday that she would not allow management to use any of Moody’s confidential settlement agreement to invoke closed-door depositions. Moody’s employment contract included a confidentiality provision.
Moody sued Fox in January, claiming that the network fired him in retaliation for trying to stop inappropriate comments from its chairman, Roger Ailes. He said Ailes retaliated by telling Moody to leave Fox News after a disagreement over the firing of Eric Bolling from the network. Bolling was suspended after allegations he sent lewd photos to female co-workers.
Moody left Fox in 2016 and now works for the Wall Street Journal. He wrote in his lawsuit that the network fired him without cause and that he was fired as part of a coordinated attempt to muzzle him. Moody also accused Fox of failing to investigate or fire Bolling despite his sexually inappropriate conduct.
Ailes, who died last year at 77, is also named in the lawsuit.
The judge rejected a motion by lawyers for the media company to dismiss the lawsuit.
“You’re right,” she told Fox’s lawyers. “The agreement does not preclude Mr Moody’s deposition.”
Ailes’ legal woes continued on Tuesday when a judge in New York said that a former anchor was due to testify in early September in her sexual harassment case against him. Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit in February accusing Ailes of sexual harassment. Ailes has denied the allegations.
Fox News reached a confidential settlement with Tantaros in June but she is attempting to block it from being used as evidence in her lawsuit.
On Tuesday, New York judge James Orenstein ruled that Tantaros would be allowed to testify in August, September and October because the network was arguing that she had entered a class action lawsuit. The judge rejected that argument.
In a separate case, Fox attorneys told the judge that they were still appealing a judge’s order that Ailes take a deposition in a separate lawsuit in which women sued Ailes claiming harassment.
Ailes’ death has opened a door for his son, Zachary, to take over Fox’s management structure, according to a person briefed on Rupert Murdoch’s discussions with other executives. The former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is a potential successor to executive chairman and Murdoch’s son James, according to the person, who asked not to be identified.
The eldest Murdoch son would be closer to younger members of the family who have a direct line to Fox News, according to the person.
Maintaining the Murdoch boys’ control over Fox News is crucial for the network’s long-term value. The Murdochs are said to want to see the company sold at some point, but a major shareholder has publicly quashed such plans.
The Murdochs turned Fox News into a profit machine during the rise of Donald Trump. An election-year surge in the cable channel’s viewership, even during the presidential campaign, has kept Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, from being sold to corporate rival Disney.
A former Fox News contributor said in a lawsuit in New York that Ailes repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances, including one occasion when she was seated next to him on a plane and he put his hand on her thigh. Ailes denies he did that.