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Dominion Voting Systems files defamation suit against Sidney Powell, lawyer who pushed Trump election conspiracy theories

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Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit Friday against lawyer Sidney Powell, who has risen to prominence in the last two months by spreading conspiracy theories that Dominion was part of a scheme to rig the presidential election. 

The company is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages, saying Powell caused it "unprecedented harm" through repeated accusations that Dominion bribed officials, colluded against the president and fixed elections for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez — claims the company calls "wild accusations (that) are demonstrably false."

The 124-page complaint notes many of the claims made by Powell were included in lawsuits she and another attorney, L. Lin Wood, filed challenging the election in various states. Attorneys for Dominion say in the complaint that the duo "were obligated to investigate the factual basis for their claims before making them in public filings."

"As such, they either conducted the inquiry required of them as licensed attorneys and violated their ethical obligations by knowingly making false assertions rebutted by the information they found, or they violated their ethical obligations by purposefully avoiding undertaking the reasonable inquiry required of them," attorneys for Dominion wrote.

In a phone call with CBS News, Wood criticized the attorneys representing Dominion and said the lawsuits he and Powell filed were "based on information developed after extensive investigation and the statements by Ms. Powell, and to the extent they are attributed to me, are factually based."

Powell did not immediately return requests for comment. Before the election, Powell entered Trump's orbit when she was hired to represent former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to knowingly making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador during the 2016 Trump administration transition. Flynn was issued a presidential pardon on November 25, 2020. 

The complaint highlights several instances in which President Donald Trump repeated or promoted Powell's unsupported claims, which it says has "irreparably damaged" Dominion.

As Powell's claims about Dominion gained traction among far-right conspiracy theorists, the company's employees suffered harassment and threats.

"We are already watching you, Come clean and you will live," read a text received by one employee, according to the complaint.

"We're gonna blow your <expletive> building up," someone said in a voicemail left for the company, according to the complaint.

The complaint says that Powell's claims have also struck at the core of its business, its contracts with various state elections departments. The company sells electronic voting machines and software to governments both in the U.S. and around the world.

"Since Powell began her media blitz, state legislators in various states in which Dominion has contracts-including Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Pennsylvania-have stated their intent to review and reassess those contracts," attorneys wrote.

The company says in its complaint that it has "mountains of evidence conclusively disproving Powell's vote-manipulation claims." 

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