Judge Dismisses Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Filed By Congressman

Sioux City, Iowa — A $77-million lawsuit filed by a U.S. Congressman from California (who has ties to northwest Iowa) against Hearst Magazines, the publisher of Esquire Magazine, and one of their writers — has been dismissed by a federal judge.

California Congressman Devon Nunes filed the suit in Federal District Court in Sioux City over what his lawsuit contends was a “Hit Piece” authored by Esquire writer Ryan Lizza prior to the 2018 congressional elections.

According to the complaint, Nunes asserted that the article, which was entitled, “Devin Nunes Family Farm Is Hiding A Politically Explosive Secret,” was “sensational and scandalous.” The complaint goes on to say the piece was republished by third parties on the internet and social media.”

The article at the heart of the lawsuit was published in September 2018, and in the words of the lawsuit complaint, the defendants “knowingly and recklessly injured Nunes’ reputation with a scandalous hit piece that intentionally disparaged Nunes and his family.” The filing also accused Nunes of “dishonesty, deceit, conspiracy and unethical practices, and severely impugned Nunes’ integrity and skills as a United States Congressman.”

The article attempted to paint a negative image of Nunes, and allegedly indicated that there was a scandal due to Nunes’ family’s move to Sibley from California a decade earlier.

The filing also reports that Lizza traveled to Sibley, where he “lurked around Nunes’ grammar-school aged nieces and stalked members of Nunes family, reducing his sister-in-law to tears.”

In sustaining Hearst Magazines’ motion for dismissal, U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams wrote, “The discussion of [Nunes’] family members’ efforts to cover up NuStar’s [alleged] use of undocumented labor is not linked to the discussion of [Nunes’ alleged] efforts to cover up the move of the family farm from California to Iowa.” The judge wrote, “There is no evidence of intent when the publication reports separate sets of facts instead of linking key statements together to create an inference.”

Williams’ dismissal also went on to say, “[Nunes] must prove [Hearst] published
the statements with ‘actual malice.’ ‘Actual malice’ means… [Hearst] published the
statement ‘with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was
false or not.'”

Judge Williams said it was on Nunes to show an intent to inflict harm through falsehood. He dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted by motion.



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