Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Voting technology company Smartmatic filed Thursday a suit seeking $2.7 billion in damages against Fox News, some network hosts and pro-Trump attorneys.
The 285-page defamation lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court against Fox Corporation, Fox News Network, network hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and attorneys for then-president Donald Trump's legal team Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging a "disinformation campaign."
"We have no choice," Smartmatic CEO and founder Antonio Mugica told CNN Business regarding filing the suit. "The disinformation campaign that was launched against us is an obliterating one. For us, this is existential, and we have to take action."
The lawsuit alleged defendants disappointed that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris won the election "saw an opportunity to capitalize on President Trump's popularity by inventing a story."
"Defendants decided to tell people that the election was stolen from President Trump and Vice President Pence," the suit read. "They needed a villain. 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," the lawsuit continued.
Smartmatic, incorporated in Delaware with U.S. operations based in Florida, provided election technology and software only in Los Angeles County, Calif., during the 2020 presidential election, the company said, but defendants spread false information that it was used in many states with close outcomes. Defendants also invented the fake narrative that Smartmatic was a Venezuelan company run by corrupt socialist dictators and that Smartmatic stole the election from Trump and rigged it for Biden, according to the complaint.
Fox News broadcast 13 reports spreading the fake story "stating and implying that Smartmatic had stolen the 2020 U.S. election," and repeated the misinformation in articles and social media postings, which appealed to their millions of viewers, the complaint said.
"The company's reputation for providing transparent, auditable, and secure election technology and software was irreparably harmed," the complaint stated. "Overnight, Smartmatic went from an under-the-radar election and technology and software company with a track record of success to the villain in defendants' disinformation campaign."
Fox News spread the false story about the 2020 presidential election to appeal to Trump supporters and to avoid losing ground to further-right One America News and Newsmax, but defendants need to be held accountable for damage "their lies have caused," the suit alleges.
"FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion," a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business after the lawsuit was filed. "We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court."
Powell called the suit a baseless "political maneuver motivated by the radical left" in a statement to CNN Business.
Giuliani issued a statement calling the lawsuit "another golden opportunity for discovery."
"I look forward to litigating with them," he said.
The New York State Bar Association opened a historic inquiry last month on removing Giuliani from its membership for repeating Trump's baseless claims of widespread election fraud at a rally of Trump supporters, preceding the U.S. Capitol riot that left five dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, and four rioters.
"Let's have trial by combat," Giuliani said at the pro-Trump rally shortly before the Capitol riot.
Last month, another election tech company, Dominion Voting Systems, filed suit against Giuliani, and Powell, similarly over false election fraud claims.
Giuliani previously told CNN that Dominion's lawsuit was an "act of intimidation," to "censor the exercise of free speech," and Powell called the Dominion suit against her "baseless."
The Senate impeachment trial against Trump is set to begin next week. House impeachment managers said in a brief Trump was "unmistakably" liable for the Capitol riot. Trump's lawyers argued in a response that it's unconstitutional to convict him since he is no longer in office and that the First Amendment protects his speech.