Law Review: Fox News, Rudy Giuliani sued for billions
Dominion Voting Systems has sued Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell for provably false claims made about Dominion’s voting systems as part of “the Big Lie” perpetuated by Trump that the presidential election was stolen. Smartmatic, another machine vote-counting company, sued Fox and others for $2.7 billion.
This could be the end of Rudy and Sidney Powell and Trump’s MyPillow pal Mike Lindell. How deserving.
Trump’s former campaign lawyer Powell claimed repeatedly that Dominion was “flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist … this is a massive election fraud … the machines are infected with the software code that allows Dominion to shave votes for one candidate and give them to another … Dominion bribed Georgia officials.”
Giuliani was not to be outdone, “We have a machine, a Dominion machine…[that] was developed to steal elections, and being used in the states that are involved. I have the evidence”
Lou Dobbs and Fox News fanned the false flames as did MyPillow millionaire Mike Lindell.
Dominion and Smartmatic filed billion-dollar lawsuits that Trump’s allies are defending in the courts.
Of course, this is after nearly 100 lawsuits challenging the election were filed by Trump allies – all later dismissed or defeated in court – even the U.S. Supreme Court. Nonetheless “the Big Lie” is apparently believed by a majority of Republicans, which could prove catastrophic for our democracy.
LIBEL AND SLANDER/PUBLIC FIGURES
Libel is written defamation while slander is spoken defamation. If you say or write false things about “public officials” or “public figures,” the defamed plaintiff must prove “actual malice,” a standard requiring at least “reckless disregard for the truth.” In other words, Dominion and Smartmatic must not only prove the statements were false, but also that the speaker/writer had ill will/malice or reckless disregard for the truth – a high standard indeed.
It is not entirely clear that either of the two vote-counting companies are public figures. They certainly were not previously in the public eye.
WHO WOULD BELIEVE?
Powell and the others are defending the lawsuits with the argument the false statements “were so outlandish and obviously false no reasonable person would understand them to be factual statements at all.” Holy mackerel. If that is true, then why did Dominion lose contracts to Trump-supported municipalities who refused to use Dominion machines. Of course, claiming the untrue statements were outlandish is also admitting they were false.
NOT POLITICAL OPINION
Courts are reluctant to rule statements about politics are the basis for defamation liability as to do so can chill political debate. However, the claims made about Dominion and Smartmatic were not hyperbole or exaggerated statements of opinion, they were flat out knowingly false, made with malicious intent to buttress the Trump lie that he had actually won the election “by a landslide.” They were believed.
We’ll be watching.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.
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