Court Rules for CNN in Rep. Devin Nunes' Libel Lawsuit


The decision (Nunes v. CNN, Inc.), from Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.), has just been released. The alleged libel:

[A 2019 CNN article reported] that Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Rudy Giuliani, had stated that Parnas was willing to testify to Congress that Nunes had traveled to Vienna and met with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin. According to the article, Parnas was willing to testify that Nunes' meetings were to discuss "digging up dirt" on former Vice President Joe Biden.

At the same time that the article was published on CNN's digital network, Ward appeared as a guest on a CNN news program, Cuomo Prime Time, hosted by news anchor Chris Cuomo. Ward and Cuomo discussed the article and allegedly "published further defamatory statements" about Nunes' involvement in "looking for dirt on the Bidens."

The heart of the legal analysis:

[1.] California libel law applies, chiefly because Rep. Nunes is domiciled in California. (I oversimplify here, but that's the gist.)

[2.] California has a "libel retraction" statute, Cal. Civil Code § 48a. That statute provides that only "special damages" may be recovered for libel in "a publication, either in print or electronic form, that contains news on matters of public concern and that publishes at least once a week," unless plaintiff demands a correction within 20 days after the plaintiff learns of the publication and defendant refuses. No such correction was demanded here.

[3.] Nunes hasn't pleaded any special damages, defined as "all damages that plaintiff alleges and proves that he or she has suffered in respect to his or her property, business, trade, profession, or occupation, including the amounts of money the plaintiff alleges and proves he or she has expended as a result of the alleged libel, and no other." (This presumably doesn't include attorney fees spent to litigate a non-special-damages claim.)

Because of this, the judge granted the motion to dismiss; Nunes can, of course, appeal.

NEXT: Attempt to Vanish My Article About Attempt to Vanish Other Articles

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  1. "Only 'special damages' may be recovered . . . unless plaintiff demands a correction within 20 days after the plaintiff learns of the publication and defendant refuses. No such correction was demanded here."

    So (yet again) we get a procedural disposition in a case involving (just another) deliberate and brazen fraud against a Trump supporter, as opposed to a decision on the merits.

    Co-equal branch my rear end. The judiciary has beclowned itself.

    1. Rare to see a Nunes stan in the wild.

      1. In the Court of Some County in Virginia

        Devin Nunes

        v. Complaint

        Reason, Eugene Volokh,
        Sarcastr0, and various John Does

        1. On or about the 19th day of February 2021 on the Volokh Conspiracy Comment Board, one Sarcastr0 maliciously and purposely and knowingly and recklessly and negligently and falsely and wantonly and depraved heartedly and wickedly and wrongedly and variously and sundry adverbedly libelslandered and defamed Devin Nunes by implying that stans of the Congressman are "rare" when in point of fact such stans are legion and growing each day.

        2. Such a statement caused incalculable grave and deep reputational, emotional, and physical damage to Devin Nunes a Congressman of great renown, a Medal of Freedom Winner, a light in this dark world whom all citizens are duty bound to revere and respect.

        Prayer for Relief
        Wherefore Devin Nunes respectfully asks this Court for an award of compensatory damages in the amount of Graham's Number Dollars.

        /s/Stephen Biss

        1. I figured the Rev would be in the crosshairs, but no one's safe when Nunes' eggshell dignity is threatened. Lord safe us all from the insecurity of tiny men with small hands, whether they be Representatives or ex-Presidents....

        2. Thank you for making me LOL (not just smile and chuckle). That was inspired. Touche!

    2. Conversely, had Nunes not attempted to contort this suit to benefit from the liberal libel laws of Virginia by hiring a Virginia attorney and suing in a state he does not reside in, does not represent in Congress, and in which the allegedly libelous statements were not made, he would have hired a California libel lawyer who knew of this statute. He still had time to comply when he filed his Virginia lawsuit and chose not to do so. That strategic choice was his, and now he lives with it.

      1. Devin Nunes has demonstrated how someone who inherited his life and got a degree in cow-milking can becomea national laughingstock, a serial doomed plaintiff, and a poster child for right-wing immigration hypocrisy.

        Clingers, on the other hand, look at Nunes and see Presidential Medal of Freedom material.

        1. Your comment is a mere slander absent any intelligent commentary the issue at hand.
          Carry on, hater.

          1. You seem to figure that all criticisms of right-wingers must be provided in expansive and footnoted prose complying with your ostensible standards.

            I figure I can call a half-educated bigot a half-educated bigot, a disaffected clinger a disaffected clinger, and a deplorable right-wing culture war casualty a deplorable right-wing casualty.

            I also figure most readers -- including Don Nico -- get my point. The clingers don't like the truth. Other readers understand and approve.

            If my comments bother you enough, Don Nico, ask the proprietor to ban or censor me. Otherwise, quit whining.

        2. Nunes is still in Congress while you are still a bigoted worthless clown.

          I am content.

          1. Anyone who is content w/ Devin Nunes is setting a very, very low bar

            1. Compared to Kirkland, Nunes is a god

              1. Bob just won first prize in the 'how faint can you make the praise with which you damn someone' competition.

          2. I am part of the liberal-libertarian mainstream that has been kicking around the downscale, obsolete, right-wing likes of you in the culture war for decades.

            You get to whimper about it as much as you like, but you will comply.

          3. Given the low esteem in which Congress is held, I'm not sure that is a complement to Nunes.

      2. "...had Nunes not attempted to contort this suit to benefit from the liberal libel laws of Virginia by hiring a Virginia attorney and suing in a state he does not reside in, does not represent in Congress, and in which the allegedly libelous statements were not made..."

        I was guessing the location of the suit was more about the presence or absence of strong state anti-SLAPP laws.

        1. I think that’s what he means by “benefit from more liberal libel laws.”

    3. Alex: Why are you blaming the court, which was applying a California statute?

      1. That's a great point Eugene. You're right that I should not complain about this court correctly (I will assume) applying this statute.

        So why did I do it?

        Because I'm beyond frustrated by the judiciary's over-eagerness to avoid the merits in litigation brought by Trump supporters, and it got the best of me on this Friday.

        1. I'd say your complaint should be directed to Trump Litigation: Elite Strike Force, but even if Trump and his sycophants had hired competent lawyers they still would have been laughed out of court in every district they visited.

          You picked the wrong side, Alex. If you don't learn to lose with dignity you have picked a hard way to live.

        2. What about Trump and his supporter who seem incapable of hiring competent attorneys? If your cases are getting thrown out or your losing decisions on technicalities then its not the courts fault its your attorney who are not doing their job and submitting good briefs and complaints.

          It seems like the Republican have appointed all their smart lawyers to the bench and what's left could not handle a case in small claims court.

          1. What about Trump and his supporter who seem incapable of hiring competent attorneys?

            Competent attorneys don't take frivolous cases.

            1. I am reminded of the old joke about the guy driving to work when his wife calls to tell him she heard on the news that there's a wrong-way driver on his route. The guy says, "Are you kidding? They ALL are going the wrong way."

              And so it is here. Maybe, just maybe, when Trump's allies lose again and again, it's because they are the ones going the wrong way.

            2. depends on whether or not they can get cash in advance.

  2. > Nunes can, of course, appeal.

    Can he? I've never seen him be appealing in any way.

  3. I've lost track : Is Nunes still suing a cow ?!?

    1. That was dismissed over the summer.

    2. Wait. The case against Twitter itself was dismissed, I am not sure about the status of the Cow or his Mom.

  4. Devin Nunes is a vexatious litigant who mostly does performative lawsuits brought by an ethically dubious attorney to harass and silence his critics. One of these critics is a fake cow on Twitter.

    But at least this case involved a national news report on his involvement in a major news story and not a suit because people were mean to him on Twitter. So kudos to Nunes on taking a small step on the path to becoming less of a ridiculous clown.

    1. How do you know the cow is fake?

  5. OK so how did this end up in New York, if it was originally filed in Virginia and Nunes is from California and CNN is headquartered in Georgia? Is it because CNN is owned by ATT who is headquartered in NY?

    1. "This case was transferred to the Southern District of New York pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1404"

      28 U.S. Code § 1404 - Change of venue

      "(a) For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented."

      Nunes was claiming the injury occurred in the state of New York, which I guess allowed the court to transfer it there whether or not he consented.

  6. A moooving decision

    1. ...and yet, udderly predictable.

      Nunes' lawyer, to Nunes: "You don't hoof a chance in hell of winning this. You don't even have hoof a chance."

      [Obligatory bull(shit) pun]

      Something something heifer something something. (I wasn't willing to make the heifert to come up with a good one.)

  7. So a Federal court in New York determined that the laws of the State of Virginia say that this case should be resolved according to the laws of the State of California. Diversity jurisdiction is a wondrous thing.

  8. CNN could use a win after paying $50M to Nick Sandmann. Can't help but wonder what they didn't want to be revealed in discovery.

    1. Do you have a cite for that $50,000,000 amount? A quick Google was not helpful.

      1. Mea culpa. I saw this stated somewhere, but it doesn't seem to have any evidence or source behind it. I would imagine the amount is much less than that.

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