(Bloomberg) -- MyPillow Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell must face a defamation suit filed by a voting machine maker that was falsely accused of participating in a conspiracy to rig the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump.
Most Read from Bloomberg
A federal judge in Minneapolis on Monday denied MyPillow and Lindell’s motion to dismiss the suit by Smartmatic Corp. US District Judge Wilhelmina Wright said there was a “wealth of information” that could have tipped off the defendants that the conspiracy theory was false, including individual states’ election reports and public statements by election officials.
Wright said Smartmatic had reasonably alleged that Lindell’s false statements about the company were made with “actual malice,” a key threshold for a defamation claim to survive against a public figure, which under US law includes corporations.
Lindell blasted the ruling and said he is prepared to prove at trial that his conspiracy theory is factual.
“These judges are making horrific decisions, letting these cases move forward,” Lindell said by phone Monday. “They should never move forward. It’s disgusting. It’s a violation of my First Amendment rights.”
Smartmatic, whose voting machines were only used in Los Angeles County in 2020, claims Lindell’s conspiracy theory has made its brand “synonymous with election fraud in the minds of members of the public and government officials.” A Smartmatic competitor, Dominion Voting Systems Inc., has also sued Lindell as well as other individuals and media companies that spread the conspiracy theory.
Lindell last week had his phone seized by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents while he was in his car at a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant in Minnesota, where MyPillow is based. He later said on social media the search warrant for his phone was tied to a probe of a county clerk in Colorado accused of tampering with voting machines.
He told Bloomberg on Monday that he plans to challenge the federal government over the cell-phone seizure.
Read More: MyPillow’s Lindell Sanctioned Over ‘Frivolous’ Election Suit
(Updates with comment from Lindell in fifth paragraph.)
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.