By Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mike Lindell, a prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, must face a $1.3 billion lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems Inc accusing him of defamation for pushing false claims that its voting machines rigged the 2020 presidential election, with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turning away his appeal.
The justices rejected a bid by Lindell and his company My Pillow Inc to immediately appeal a federal judge's refusal to toss the lawsuit. A lower court also snubbed his effort to quickly review the case, allowing the litigation to proceed.
Denver-based Dominion's lawsuit against Lindell is one of a number that the company and a competitor, Smartmatic USA Inc, have filed against Trump allies and conservative media outlets over false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump through widespread voting fraud.
Dominion sued Lindell and Chaska, Minnesota-based My Pillow in 2021 in federal court in Washington, accusing him of making claims he knew were not supported by evidence. "But Lindell – a talented salesman and former professional card counter – sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows," Dominion's lawsuit stated.
U.S. Judge Carl Nichols in August 2021 rejected Lindell's request to dismiss the case, finding that Dominion "adequately alleged that Lindell made his claims knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth."
Nichols added, "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."
Lindell sought to appeal that decision. But in January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected it, noting that the case can be reviewed after a "final judgment" in the trial court.
Lindell told the Supreme Court that blocking an immediate appeal "condemns any honest and tenacious critic of the administration of a public function to a monumentally exhausting and devastatingly costly judicial process before an appellate court has any opportunity to decide whether a district court has correctly applied the constitutional standard."
A Minnesota federal judge in a separate case ruled on Sept. 19 that Lindell must face a defamation lawsuit brought by London-based Smartmatic over his false accusations that it rigged the 2020 U.S. election against Trump and in favor of President Joe Biden.
Lindell also is facing a federal investigation involving identity theft and conspiring to damage a protected computer connected to a suspected voting equipment security breach in Colorado. The equipment at issue was furnished by Dominion.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)
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