Dominion Voting Systems sued Mike Lindell, chief executive of MyPillow, on Monday, alleging that he defamed Dominion with baseless claims of election fraud involving its voting machines. The company is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleged that Mr. Lindell “exploited” false claims about election fraud to support his company’s sales.
“Lindell — a talented salesman and former professional card counter — sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows,” Dominion said in the filing. It said MyPillow’s “defamatory marketing campaign” — with promo codes like “FightforTrump” and “QAnon” — had increased the company’s sales 30 percent to 40 percent.
“I’m very happy that they’ve done this,” Mr. Lindell said in a phone interview on Monday. “I’m ready to go to court. I have all the evidence that anyone would ever want to see.”
Mr. Lindell, who is best known for appearing on boxes of his company’s pillows and in MyPillow’s infomercials, is a fierce supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, and rose to new prominence this year as he promoted debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud. The claims, particularly those made after the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol, prompted a backlash against Mr. Lindell and MyPillow. A number of retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s, cut ties with the company while Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Lindell’s account.
Dominion said on Monday that it had written to Mr. Lindell multiple times, “put him on formal written notice of the facts and told him that Dominion employees were receiving death threats because of the lies.”
“Instead of retracting his lies, Lindell — a multimillionaire with a nearly unlimited ability to broadcast his preferred messages on conservative media — whined that he was being ‘censored’ and ‘attacked’ and produced a ‘docu-movie’ featuring shady characters and fake documents sourced from dark corners of the internet,” Dominion said in the filing.
In an interview with The New York Times last month, Mr. Lindell said he would “welcome” a lawsuit from Dominion after the company sent him a legal letter warning of pending litigation over his baseless claims involving their machines.
“Dominion threatened to sue me and I said bring it on, I want you to, I 100 percent want you to,” Mr. Lindell said in the Jan. 25 interview. “But they won’t do it, and you know why they won’t do it? Because they know all the evidence will come out.”
Dominion said in its filing that through discovery, it “will prove that there is no real evidence” to support conspiracy theories claiming that the election was stolen.
MyPillow is based in Chaska, Minn., and is relatively small; Mr. Lindell said last month that it employed nearly 2,500 people. It was founded by Mr. Lindell, a former crack cocaine and gambling addict, after the idea for MyPillow came to him in a dream in 2004, according to his memoir. The business took off after it began airing infomercials in 2011, and Mr. Lindell’s interest in politics seems to have grown since then as well.
MyPillow has said in court filings that it spends an average of $5 million a month on advertising. Much of that spending has been with Fox News, which raised Mr. Lindell’s profile with Mr. Trump, a close watcher of the network. “I would not go out and risk everything I own, everything I have, if I wasn’t 100 percent being truthful, and that’s it,” Mr. Lindell said Monday.
Defamation suits against individuals and networks who shared Mr. Trump’s election conspiracies have become a new front in the war against misinformation.
Dominion also filed defamation suits last month against two of the former president’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Another voter technology firm, Smartmatic, filed its defamation suit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire in early February, saying its anchors Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro harmed its business and reputation. Fox has filed a motion to dismiss that suit.