- A federal judge has denied the dismissal of Dominion’s defamation lawsuits against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell.
- The cases, each seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages, will proceed in full.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A federal judge in Washington, DC, on Wednesday denied motions from Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell seeking to dismiss defamation lawsuits brought against them by Dominion Voting Systems.
Dominion sued Giuliani, Powell, and MyPillow, alleging $1.3 billion in damages in three separate lawsuits filed in January and February, saying they made defamatory claims about the company’s role in the 2020 election by promoting false election conspiracy theories.
Each of the defendants asked US District Judge Carl J. Nichols to dismiss the lawsuits. Nichols heard arguments over the matter at a marathon 4-hour hearing in June.
The ruling means that all of the multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems will proceed in full against Giuliani, Powell, and Lindell.
The three allies of former President Donald Trump pushed false conspiracy theories about Dominion’s role in the 2020 presidential election. Giuliani and Powell, working as lawyers for Trump’s campaign and on their own, falsely said Dominion was secretly founded in Venezuela and manipulated election results as part of a plot first set in motion by now-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Mike Lindell has claimed a shadowy international consortium hacked Dominion’s election machines, and continues to perpetuate those claims, hosting a “cyber symposium” about the subject this week.
Nichols’ ruling comes a day after Dominion filed three new lawsuits against the right-wing media networks One America News and Newsmax, which it also accuses of pushing false theories, as well as former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Dominion has also sued Fox News over the claims. Smartmatic, also implicated in many false election conspiracy theories, has additionally sued numerous people and entities involved in the falsehoods.
The ruling gives Dominion’s lawsuits a green light
The Wednesday ruling is the first to demonstrate that Dominion may have met the United States’ high bar for defamation litigation brought from public figures.
Defamation laws vary by state, but they generally involve proving that the defendant acted with “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Nichols ruled that – if the cases went to trial as Dominion requested – a jury could reasonably find that Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell acted recklessly in claiming Dominion “flipped” election results from Trump to now-President Joe Biden.
In Powell’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit against her, her lawyers said her claims were hyperbolic and made in the heat of a political debate, and that her failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results were based on sworn affidavits. Nichols ruled that “there is no blanket immunity for statements that are ‘political’ in nature,” and that the affidavits she included – like the one by “Spyder” – are ludicrous.
“Dominion alleges that Powell’s ‘evidence’ was either falsified by Powell herself, misrepresented and cherry-picked, or so obviously unreliable that Powell had to have known it was false or had acted with reckless disregard for the truth,” Nichols ruled.
Nichols also pointed out that Powell may have fabricated sections of some affidavits, and that one “expert” she cited in her lawsuits was clearly a conspiracy theorist.
“That expert has also publicly claimed that George Soros, President George H.W. Bush’s father, the Muslim Brotherhood, and ‘leftists’ helped form the ‘Deep State’ in Nazi Germany in the 1930s – which would have been a remarkable feat for Soros, who was born in 1930,” Nichols wrote.
Lindell cited the same “expert” in his own conspiracy theories, Nichols noted. And though Lindell purported to have evidence showing that election machines were hacked, the spreadsheets he provided demonstrated no such thing, according to Nichols.
“As a preliminary matter, a reasonable juror could conclude that the existence of a vast international conspiracy that
is ignored by the government but proven by a spreadsheet on an internet blog is so inherently improbable that only a reckless man would believe it,” Nichols said.