Friday, November 20, 2020

If Sidney Powell Is Lying Sue Her Ass For Defamation!

jonathanturley  |  The press conference held by the Trump legal team was not for the faint of heart.  The team alleged a global, Communist-backed conspiracy to “inject” and “change” votes through the use of the Dominion computer system. It was exhausting and breathtaking. I was critical of the press conference as being long on heated rhetoric and short on hard evidence. Dominion issued a statement categorically denying the allegations. The question is whether Dominion itself will now sue.  The company denied the allegations but I often measure such denials by whether anyone actually sues.  Dominion could do so and force the Trump team to reveal the evidence supporting their allegations or face potentially significant liability. I assume that counsel like Sidney Powell would not make such allegations without proof, but the press conference did not make such evidence public. But these are not just colorful but criminal allegations against named companies and by implication corporate officials and political allies.

Trump campaign counsel repeatedly accused Dominion and its officers of criminal conduct and business improprieties. Those are categories of “per se defamation” under the common law. No special damages must be shown in such per se cases. Individual officers could bring defamation claims and the company itself could bring a business disparagement action.

Businesses can be defamed like individuals if the false statement injures the business character of the corporation or its prestige and standing in the industry. In Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749 (1985) the Supreme Court allowed a business to sue a credit reporting agency for defamation where the agency mistakenly reported that the business had filed for bankruptcy.