Election lawsuits proliferated like mushrooms back in November and December, 2020. One such lawsuit was even filed as a class action on behalf of “all U.S. registered voters” alleging a coordinated effort to change voting laws and use unreliable voting machines to interfere with the presidential election. The two lawyers, Gary Fielder and Ernest Walker, filed the lawsuit in Colorado federal court. It turns out the two lawyers conducted no actual investigation of their very broad allegations. They simply compiled all the allegations from other failed lawsuits and from news reports asserting fraud, but no information from news reports which refuted claims of fraud. As the Magistrate Judge points out, relying on other failed lawsuits should have been a huge red flag.
Yet, the two lawyers claimed governors, election officials in four states, a voting technology company, Facebook and a nonprofit seeking more secure elections were all involved in this massive conspiracy. The suit sought $160 billion in damages. The court noted that is an amount larger than the GDP of Hungary. So, the court assessed sanctions against the two lawyers. The sanctions amount to enough to cover the costs of the opposing attorneys in filing a motions to dismiss and opposing an attempted amended complaint.
Height of Recklessness
The court noted that the lawsuit engaged in inflammatory language that could place the persons involved in danger. To engage in such language without a firm basis was the “height of recklessness.”
The plaintiffs used affidavits comprised mostly of a general fear and suspicion that the system was rigged, and that democracy no longer works, said the Magistrate Judge. Those affidavits showed that the plaintiffs had no first-hand knowledge about their supposed information, said the court. Indeed, lack of first-hand knowledge seems to have been a hallmark of those 2020 election lawsuits. See ABA Bar Journal report here.
Magistrate Judge Reid Neureiter’s takedown of this lawsuit is as complete as judges get. He was clearly perturbed by this very frivolous and dangerous lawsuit. We have to wonder why some lawyers were so willing to play poker with their law license. Sanctions are very rare. But, these election lawsuits from late 2020 seem to be reversing that trend.