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Fox News finalizing settlement with former producer who accused network of coercion and rampant sexism

<i>Mike Segar/Reuters</i><br/>Abby Grossberg
Mike Segar/Reuters
Abby Grossberg

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

(CNN) — Fox News is on the verge of settling another major lawsuit.

Abby Grossberg, the former network producer who filed an explosive complaint against the company earlier this year, is in the final stages of ironing out a settlement with the company, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The settlement will mark the fourth case in a string of lawsuits that the billionaire owners of Fox News, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, have moved to put an end to in recent months. The Murdochs, facing scrutiny on a number of fronts, have sought to disentangle themselves from a web of legal threats.

Representatives for both Grossberg and Fox News declined to comment on Thursday. While the deal is close to being finalized, last-minute hiccups are always possible. The terms of the agreement were not known.

Grossberg, a former top producer for the right-wing hosts Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson, made a series of stunning claims against the network in a lawsuit filed in March just as Dominion Voting Systems’ historic defamation case was careening toward trial.

Among many of the bombshell allegations included in her complaint was the charge that Fox News lawyers coerced her into providing misleading testimony when she was deposed as part of Dominion’s billion-dollar lawsuit. She later accused Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott of being complicit in the alleged coercion and claimed Fox’s lawyers deleted messages from her phone.

Grossberg also made a number of eye-popping allegations about the workplace environment at Fox News, accusing the network of rampant sexism. In her lawsuit, Grossberg indicated she was passed over for a top job on Bartiromo’s show because the network preferred it be filled by a male and said Fox News executives referred to the “Sunday Mornings Futures” host as a “crazy b**ch” and “menopausal.”

Grossberg also alleged the workspace for Carlson’s show was decorated with large photos of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in a plunging bathing suit revealing her cleavage,” and she described a culture at Carlson’s program in which women were subjected to crude terms and in which jokes about Jewish people were made out in the open.

Fox News previously said that Grossberg’s lawsuit was “riddled with false allegations.” The network repeatedly insisted that its lawyers always acted appropriately.

Regardless, Grossberg’s eleventh-hour lawsuit unquestionably changed the course of Dominion’s case against Fox News, which ultimately settled for an unprecedented $787 million. Grossberg revealed that Fox News had not turned over some evidence related to Dominion’s lawsuit, prompting the judge’s ire and the appointment of a special master to investigate whether Fox News had followed the court’s orders.

The decision to appoint a special master followed other major defeats for Fox News during the summary judgment phase of the lawsuit. In May, Lachlan Murdoch told investors that such decisions by the judge contributed to Fox News’ decision to settle the lawsuit with Dominion.

Smartmatic, another election technology company suing Fox News, has also subpoenaed Grossberg to testify in its case against the network.

How much Fox News ultimately agrees to pay Grossberg to end the ugly dispute remains to be seen. But it may become public at some point in time, given that New York law makes it exceptionally difficult for settlements of employment lawsuits containing sexual harassment claims to remain entirely confidential.

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