Dominion will be able to pursue three different defamation claims, filed against attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
According to CNN, Dominion is seeking billions of dollars in damages, claiming that its reputation and operations were harmed by the defendants’ unfounded claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Dominion, notes CNN, provides the election equipment used by more than 40% of voters across the United States.
In his Wednesday opinion, Washington, D.C.-based District Judge Carl Nichols said that Powell’s accusations of voter fraud are not forms of protected speech.
Furthermore, Nichols said that Powell cannot hide behind her position as an attorney.
“Powell cannot shield herself from liability for her widely disseminated out-of-court statements by casting them as protected statements about in-court litigation; an attorney’s out-of-court statements to the public can be actionable, even if those statements concern contemplated or ongoing litigation,” Nichols wrote.
CNN reports that attorneys for both Powell and Lindell had tried arguing that their clients’ election fraud allegations are protected speech, because the election results continue to be “disputed.”
In response to Wednesday’s ruling, Lindell called Nichols’ decision “horrible,” and a blow to free speech.
“You can get sued for everything now,” Lindell said.
Conversely, Giuliani has said that Dominion’s lawsuit is an act of political “intimidation by the hate-filled left-wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously.”
Each of the three plaintiffs had claimed that Dominion played a critical role in “stealing” the election from Donald Trump by either discarding pro-Trump votes or transforming them into pro-Biden votes.
Conservative news outlets ran wild with the claims, with some Fox News personalities suggesting that Dominion Voting Systems had ties to the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
In response, Trump supporters—who felt the election had been stolen from their preferred candidate—issued death threats against Dominion employees and executives.
While there is no evidence for any of these claims, the defendants have insisted that they were simply offering an opinion on what they believe to have been unfair election.
Nonetheless, Nichols dismissed Giuliani’s motion to have the lawsuit against him thrown out. He also said that Powell’s statements are not necessarily protected, because they may have relied upon objectively untrue “facts.”
“Dominion has adequately alleged that Powell made a number of statements that are actionable because a reasonable juror could conclude that they were either statements of fact or statements of opinion that implied or relied upon facts that are provably false,” the judge wrote.
Nichols also cast doubt on Lindell’s past and continued claims that Trump should have won the election—and took note of Dominion’s argument that Lindell manipulated gullible Trump supporters into purchasing his products.
“In addition to alleging that Lindell’s claims are inherently improbable, that his sources are unreliable, and that he has failed to acknowledge the validity of countervailing evidence, Dominion has alleged numerous instances in which Lindell told audiences to purchase MyPillow products after making his claims of election fraud and providing MyPillow promotional codes related to those theories,” Nichols.