'A false narrative': Judge slaps down Mike Lindell’s motion to dismiss Dominion defamation lawsuit
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been battling separate defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and its competitor Smartmatic. The far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist falsely accused both companies of helping now-President Joe Biden steal the 2020 presidential election from former President Donald Trump — a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked, but one that Lindell hasn’t backed down from.
Lindell and MyPillow have tried to get Smartmatic’s lawsuit thrown out. But on Monday, September 19, according to Politico reporter Kelly Hooper, U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright“denied both Lindell’s and MyPillow’s motions to dismiss the complaint.”
“The court concluded that Smartmatic has alleged sufficient facts to support its defamation claim, including its claims that Lindell’s statements were false, that his defamatory statements were communicated to outside parties, that he knew or should have known his statements were false and that he acted with actual malice in promoting them,” Hooper reports. “The court concluded that MyPillow can be vicariously liable for Lindell’s actions, since the CEO intentionally promoted MyPillow while allegedly defaming Smartmatic in the media and during public appearances. The court also maintained that Smartmatic can pursue its claim that Lindell violated the Minnesota Deceptive Trade Practice law, since the company has alleged sufficient evidence to its claim that Lindell’s statements were made in part to promote MyPillow.”
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The “actual malice” part is important. In the case New York Times v. Sullivan back in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled that in a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove “actual malice” on the part of the defendant — and making an honest mistake doesn’t qualify as actual malice. The High Court, in that unanimous ruling 58 years ago, made defamation very difficult to prove; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for example, lost her defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, as her attorneys were unable to demonstrate in court there was actual malice on the Times’ part.
But Smartmatic, in its defamation lawsuit against Lindell and MyPillow, is arguing that Lindell didn’t make an honest mistake — he showed a total disregard for the truth and promoted a conspiracy theory that is divorced from reality.
Wright, in her ruling, made it clear that she sees Biden as the legitimate winner of 2020’s presidential election.
The judge wrote, “Lindell created and published a series of documentary videos that purported to provide evidence and facts substantiating his theory that the voting technology of Smartmatic and two other election technology companies, ES&S and Dominion, stole the 2020 election. Lindell advertised and provided election-related promotional codes for his products to viewers and listeners during internet, television and radio show segments in which Lindell allegedly defamed Smartmatic and promoted his documentaries. Lindell also sponsored a ‘March for Trump’ bus tour to twenty cities promoting the January 6, 2021 rally in Washington, D.C., during which Lindell rode in a bus bearing the MyPillow logo and endorsed the false narrative that former President Trump won the 2020 election.”
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