Facebook-Dominion Ruling Blasts ‘Fantastical’ Election Suit
(Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for dozens of Donald Trump supporters who made wild conspiracy claims about Facebook Inc. and Dominion Voting Systems Inc. rigging the 2020 Presidential election will have to pay up for their bogus suit, a federal judge in Colorado ruled.
A pair of attorneys who filed the case on behalf of disgruntled voters violated court rules by making no attempt to verify their “fantastical” allegations against the social-media giant and the voting-technology firm, U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter concluded Tuesday in Denver.
The suit, dismissed in April, also named Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and politicians including the governors of Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia, accusing them all of participating in a vast conspiracy.
Among the false claims in the suit was a Trump tweet alleging Dominion “deleted” 2.7 million votes for the former president, which was presented in the complaint without elaboration. It also accused Facebook of scheming to suppress information about the purported risks of mail-in voting.
The lawyers didn’t properly back up those allegations or any others -- a violation of rules that aim to prevent courts from being used to file bad-faith lawsuits, the judge said. They attempted to bolster the suit with numerous sworn affidavits, but they were filled with “beliefs” about voter fraud rather than actual facts -- another serious violation, the judge said.
“Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made,” the judge said. The amount of the sanctions against the attorneys hasn’t been determined.
One of the lawyers, Gary Fielder of Colorado, said in an email that he’s appealing the ruling and that he never acted in bad faith.
“From the beginning, our clients sought a peaceful and legal method to address the mountain of truthful and factual allegations outlined in our complaint,” Fielder said. “The case has nothing to do with Donald Trump, and is concerned only with the integrity of our Presidential elections -- which affects every registered voter in America.”
The other lawyer, Ernest Walker of Michigan, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
“The allegations made by the plaintiffs were, and are, exceedingly dangerous and have been proven false,” Dominion attorney Stanley Garnett said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the decision of the court and look forward to continuing to seek accountability for those responsible for spreading lies.”
The ruling comes as Wisconsin’s governor and other state officials await a ruling on their request for legal fees from Trump and former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell over their failed lawsuits challenging the state’s election result.
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