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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judge Scraps Nunes Defamation Lawsuit Against CNN

— February 21, 2021

The judge found that Nunes’s lawsuit didn’t meet certain filing criteria, and also fell short of the court’s standards.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by California Rep. Devin Nunes against CNN.

According to The Associated Press, Rep. Nunes—a Republican—had been seeking over $435 million in damages. In his complaint, Nunes claimed that CNN had attempted to tarnish his personal and professional reputation by claiming that he had been part of a conspiracy intended to “get dirt” on then-presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Nunes, says The A.P., either tried to contact or met with a Ukrainian prosecutor to see whether there was any evidence of Hunter Biden benefiting from corruption during the time he worked for Ukraine-based Burisma.

But Nunes says that CNN’s story was patently false and intentionally misrepresented his actions.

However, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor was not willing to hear Nunes’s case.

While Taylor did not rule on the merits of Nunes’s claim, she did find that the Republican had not taken the right measures to proceed with his lawsuit. Nunes did not, for instance, present CNN with a timely request to retract or amend the article. Under California state law, anyone who believes that a news outlet has published false, potentially libelous information must request a retraction by a certain date.

“The California Civil Code limits a defamation plaintiff’s recovery to special damage unless the plaintiff makes a specific written demand for a retraction within a short period of time,” Taylor wrote.

CNN logo. Image via Flickr/user:mohamedn. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“The notice and demand must be served within 20 days after knowledge of the publication or broadcast of the statements claimed to be libelous.”

Taylor noted that Nunes had filed a complaint months after CNN published the purportedly libelous article and aired a corresponding segment.

Interestingly, neither Nunes nor his attorneys so much as alleged to have sent CNN a retraction request.

In his filing, Nunes tried to argue that his claim fell outside California’s jurisdiction. While Nunes had asked that his case be considered under Virginia or Washington, D.C., law, Taylor found him subject to California statutes instead.

Judge Taylor also stated that Nunes’s lawsuit was not sufficiently formulated to progress to trial.

“The [amended complaint],” Taylor said, “does not plead plausibly that Plaintiff suffered any special damages and thus fails to state a defamation claim upon which relief may be granted.”

Attorneys for CNN had earlier alleged in court documents that Nunes’s claims were politically motivated and lacked sound legal reasoning.

“Instead of denying the report before it was published, Rep. Nunes waited until it appeared and then filed this suit seeking more than $435 million in damages — labeling CNN ‘the mother of fake news,’” CNN lawyers wrote. “In his rush to sue, however, Rep. Nunes overlooked the need first to request a retraction.”


Judge rejects Rep. Nunes’ defamation lawsuit against CNN

Judge rejects Rep. Devin Nunes defamation suit against CNN

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