MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was dealt a blow on Monday when the Supreme Court rejected his bid to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that is allowing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems Inc. to go forward.
As BizPac Review reported, Dominion targeted Lindell, an ardent Trump supporter, for defamation in 2021, accusing the pillow maker of making claims about the company and the 2020 election results that he knew were not supported by the evidence.
“But Lindell – a talented salesman and former professional card counter – sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows,” the lawsuit alleged.
At the time, legendary lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who is currently representing Lindell in the Hardee’s drive-thru debacle with the FBI, stated that he didn’t think Dominion had a legal leg to stand on.
“Whether Lindell was right or wrong, he had the right to express his views, and this is part of the public debate, and I don’t think, unless they can demonstrate that, with malice, he deliberately, willfully, knowingly defamed them,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to get any pillows out of this.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 24, 2021
U.S. Judge Carl Nichols disagreed with Dershowitz’s assessment of Dominion’s chances, dismissing in August 2021 Lindell’s motion to dismiss the case.
Lindell’s legal team cited the Supreme Court’s 1964 defamation ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan, which found that a public figure could only pursue a defamation claim if there is evidence of “actual malice,” NBC News reports. Because Lindell genuinely believes his claims against Dominion, Lindell’s lawyers argued that no “actual malice” occurred.
Nichols didn’t see it that way and found that Dominion “adequately alleged that Lindell made his claims knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth,” according to Reuters.
“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 stated.
Lindell’s attempt to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was summarily dismissed in January, with the court deciding that his case could be reviewed after the trial court reaches a “final judgment.”
In his plea to the Supreme Court, Lindell argued 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.”
In their court papers, Lindell’s lawyers, in this case, took issue with the notion that the pillow manufacturer knew his claims were false.
“Lindell asserts today, as he did throughout the relevant period, that his statements regarding Dominion, its voting machines, and the integrity of the tabulation were, and continue to be, valid, accurate, and true,” they wrote, according to NBC News.
With the Supreme Court’s rejection of Lindell’s appeal, some are wondering if SCOTUS will revisit New York Times v. Sullivan.
As NBC notes, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — both conservatives — have suggested that the decision should be overturned.
Sad news for the my pillow guy. There had been some concern SCOTUS might see this case as a vehicle for reconsidering longstanding rules that require a public figure to prove reckless disregard for the truth when suing for defamation. https://t.co/bjRqVw0B5W
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) October 3, 2022
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