The dismissal will leave both sides responsible for their own legal fees.
Former California Rep. Devin Nunes has dropped his lawsuit against the husband of an infamous “Twitter cow,” who relentlessly mocked the controversial conservative politician on social media.
According to The Fresno Bee, Nunes’ motion to dismiss ends the seventh of the ten lawsuits he had filed against media organizations and critics. Nunes broadly alleged that each of the defendants had intentionally defamed him and damaged his reputation by spreading malicious information.
However, Nunes’ litigation found anything but a warm reception in California courts: most of the former politician’s lawsuits were readily dismissed, or—at the very least—viewed with heavy skepticism by state and federal judges alike.
In the case of the so-called Twitter cow, Nunes alleged that the man behind the account, Ben Paul Meredith, had inspired a campaign of stalking and cyber-harassment against him.
Even still, the courts were wary of Nunes’ claims, noting that the dairy businessman had offered little to substantiate his claims.
Earlier, presiding Judge Jennifer L. Thurston wrote that the only physical evidence Nunes presented “undermines rather than corroborates his claim” of virtual harassment.
Despite her adverse ruling, Thurston’s decision does allow Nunes to revive his stalking claim if he could provide evidence that the “Twitter cow’s” harassment meets the legal threshold to be considered stalking.
Aside from permitting the possibility of further legal option, Thurston appeared to wholly side with Meredith’s motion to dismiss under California’s “anti-SLAPP” statutes.
Anti-SLAPP statutes, used in a variety of steps, prevent public figures from filing “frivolous” lawsuits against journalists and other medica critics, especially if the lawsuit is intended to stifle legitimate controversy or silence political dissent.
On Wednesday, both Nunes and Meredith agreed to dismiss the lawsuit, with each side bearing their own legal costs.
Nevertheless, attorneys for Nunes continued to circulate “unfounded” rumors that Meredith is, in fact, married to the owner of the “Twitter cow” account, which was created—in part to—to mock Nunes’ recurring claims that he is a hardworking American farmer.
In a statement, Nunes attorneys Steven Biss and Derek Wisehart said that Meredith’s proposed connection to the cow—a woman named on a website created by an intern for a one-time challenger to Nunes’ former political post—made him at least partially culpable for an anonymous harassment campaign.
Thurston, however, said that while the law “requires the Court to take facts in the light favorable to the Plaintiff and make reasonable inferences, it does not require the Court to make illogical leaps.”
An attorney for Meredith declined the Fresno Bee’s request for comment.