Dominion Voting Exec Lobs Defamation Suit At Trump, Attys

Law360 (December 23, 2020, 8:34 PM EST) -- Dominion Voting Systems Corp.'s security director has accused President Donald Trump's campaign and his attorneys of circulating a "baseless conspiracy theory" that he was involved with Antifa and rigged the November election, according to a defamation suit lodged in Colorado state court.

Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security at the voting systems company, said Tuesday in his suit that he's been dragged into the heart of the outgoing president's false narrative that Dominion used its equipment to rig the election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

Through their misinformation campaign, Trump, attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and a handful of conservative political commentators and media outlets have invaded Coomer's privacy, threatened his safety and "fundamentally defamed his reputation across this country," Coomer said.

"Spreading false conspiracy theories about American election workers can have devastating consequences," he said in the suit. "This is such a case."

According to the complaint, Dominion provided election support services to more than 1,300 jurisdictions across the country for the Nov. 3 election. Biden overwhelmingly won the popular vote and came away with 306 electoral votes while Trump secured just 232. Election officials have consistently debunked claims the election was rigged.

In the days immediately following the election, as it became apparent that Trump would lose, the president and his attorneys and allies began claiming widespread voter fraud and pushing "baseless" conspiracies about why he lost, Coomer said.

In particular, Trump and his allies pointed to assertions made by right-wing podcast host Joseph Oltmann, who claimed to have infiltrated a conference call with Antifa activists, per the suit. While purportedly on this call, Oltmann said he heard someone identified as "Eric from Dominion," who had assured the group that he would ensure the election went to Biden, Coomer said.

Oltmann provided no explanation for how he learned of the call or gained access to it, and he said he has no recording of it, Coomer noted. Still, Oltmann asserted that he had heard Coomer speak on the call, according to the suit.

"Despite the inherent unreliability of these claims, defendants widely disseminated this false narrative," he said.

As intended, the conspiracy theory quickly spread throughout social media and other sources, Coomer said. Trump's son Eric Trump tweeted a photo of Coomer next to the false claim, per the suit. And the president's campaign lawyers identified him in a nationally televised press conference, calling him a "vicious, vicious man" who is "close to Antifa," Coomer said.

"While this theory has been thoroughly rejected, its immediate and life-threatening effects remain very real," Coomer said. "The deluge of misinformation has caused immense injury to Dr. Coomer's reputation, professional standing, safety and privacy."

Coomer has been forced to leave his home in fear of his safety, he said.

"Without concern for the truth or the consequences of their reckless conduct, defendants branded Dr. Coomer a traitor to the United States, a terrorist and a criminal of the highest order," he said.

Coomer's suit lists Donald J. Trump for President Inc., Powell, Giuliani, Oltmann, conservative media outlets One America News Network and Newsmax, and right-wing website Gateway Pundit, among others.

He's alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. He's seeking a court order forcing the defendants to retract their statements, as well as unspecified damages, attorney fees and court costs.

In a statement obtained by Law360 on Wednesday, Coomer said he has been "thrust into the public spotlight by people with political and financial agendas." He said he filed the suit "in an effort to unwind as much of the damage as possible done to me, my family, my life, and my livelihood."

"Elections are not about politics; they are about accurately tabulating legally cast votes," Coomer said. "That is exactly what happened in the 2020 presidential election and I am proud of the role I had in making this election 'the most secure in American history.'"

The Trump campaign and Powell didn't immediately return requests for comment, and the other defendants couldn't be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Coomer is represented by Charles J. Cain and Steve Skarnulis of Cain & Skarnulis PLLC.

Counsel information for the defendants wasn't immediately available Wednesday.

The case is Coomer v. Donald J. Trump for President Inc. et al., case number 2020CV34319, in Denver County District Court.

--Editing by Adam LoBelia.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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