Dominion says it pursued Sidney Powell “across state lines” after she “evaded” $1.3B suit for weeks

Voting systems company tracked Powell down to North Carolina and called in police to witness her being served

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 10, 2021 12:13PM (EST)

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a news conference about lawsuits contesting the results of the presidential election at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a news conference about lawsuits contesting the results of the presidential election at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems said in a court filing on Tuesday that the company was forced to hire private investigators to track down former Trump attorney Sidney Powell to serve her with a $1.3 billion lawsuit.

Dominion sued Powell last month, along with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, for pushing a baseless conspiracy theory alleging that Dominion voting machines had switched votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden in a communist plot involving the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. But the company was unable to serve Powell with the lawsuit for three weeks, attorneys said.

The company's lawyers said in the court filing that Powell had "evaded service of process for weeks, forcing Dominion to incur unnecessary expenses for extraordinary measures to effect service, including hiring private investigators and pursuing Powell across state lines."

The filing came in response to a motion from Powell's lawyers asking for more time to respond to the lawsuit. Dominion's lawyers said in their filing that Powell had "refused to respond" to requests from the company's lawyers that would have allowed her more time in the first place. 

Howard Kleinhendler, an attorney for Powell, disputed the allegation, arguing that she "regularly travels as part of her work."

"Unfortunately, for the past several months Ms. Powell has had to take extra precautions concerning her security, which may have made serving her more difficult," he told Politico. "Ms. Powell had no reason to evade service as she looks forward to defending herself in court."

Dominion ultimately tracked down the Texas-based attorney in North Carolina, and apparently called in local police as witnesses when Powell was served, according to court records and a police call log posted by CNN's Katelyn Polantz.

Powell, who previously represented former national security adviser and QAnon enthusiast Michael Flynn, was a member of Trump's legal team following the election, at least until the president and Giuliani cut ties with her as her unsubstantiated claims grew more outlandis. She filed multiple unsuccessful error-ridden lawsuits seeking to overturn several states' election results and reportedly urged Trump to appoint her as a special counsel to investigate unfounded voter fraud claims and order the seizure of voting machines.

In Dominion's court filing on Tuesday, the company said it would not oppose Powell's motion to delay her response to the suit until March 22. The lawsuit accuses Powell of waging a "viral disinformation campaign" that "irreparably damaged" Dominion's reputation and cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

"During a Washington, D.C. press conference, a Georgia political rally, and a media blitz, Powell falsely claimed that Dominion had rigged the election, that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections for Hugo Chávez, and that Dominion bribed Georgia officials for a no-bid contract," the lawsuit said.

"Far from being created in Venezuela to rig elections for a now-deceased Venezuelan dictator," the complaint added, "Dominion was founded in Toronto for the purpose of creating a fully auditable paper-based vote system that would empower people with disabilities to vote independently on verifiable paper ballots."

Powell, who was kicked off Twitter for spreading QAnon-related content, doubled down on her election conspiracy theories in a Friday federal court filing in Michigan, where state Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a motion to sanction Powell and other attorneys who had filed election lawsuits without evidence.

Dominion has also sued Giuliani and sent letters to social media networks asking them to preserve posts by others who spread the conspiracy theory, suggesting more lawsuits may be coming. The letters named Flynn, Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis, pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood, Fox News and several of its hosts, along with other conservative news outlets like Newsmax and One America Network. The letters also named MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who just last week aired a three-hour documentary detailing the baseless conspiracy theory on OAN.

"Mike Lindell is begging to be sued," Dominion spokesman Michael Steel told CNN after the broadcast, "and at some point we may well oblige him."

The voting software firm Smartmatic, which was inexplicably tied to the Dominion conspiracy theory even though the companies appear to have no ties and its software was used in a single California county's election, has also filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Powell, Giuliani, Fox News and the Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. Fox News, which has recently aired multiple segments debunking claims about the company previously made on its shows, cut ties with Dobbs last week.

"They needed a villain," the lawsuit said. "They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil. ... Without any true villain, defendants invented one. Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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