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Friday, January 27, 2023

Federal court resumes defamation lawsuit against journalists by Rep. Devin Nunes

On Wednesday, the federal court restored a defamation lawsuit filed by Rep. Devin Nunes (Republican Party of California) over a magazine report about his relatives. A few months before that, the lower court rejected the lawsuit.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that in Nunes’ defamation lawsuit, the lower court erroneously sided with Ryan Lizza. Lizza wrote an article for Esquire in 2018, stating that Nunes’s family transferred their farming operations to Iowa and hired illegal foreigners.

After Nunes filed a lawsuit against Lizza and Esquire publisher Hearst Magazine Media, the reporter posted a link to his story on Twitter in November 2019. In doing so, the Court of Appeal argued that even after the lawsuit was filed, he basically republished it. Lizza joined Politico in August 2019 as its chief Washington correspondent and is still employed there.

“The complaint here fully claims that Lizza intends to reach and actually reach new audiences by posting tweets and article links about Nunes,” Judge Steven Colloton wrote in an opinion letter (pdf). Judges Ravensky Smith and Ralph Eriksson also joined him.

The judge pointed out that “Lizza posted this article on Twitter in November 2019 after Nunes filed a lawsuit, and denied the implication of the article,” and added, “The facts presented are sufficient to show that Lizza was engaged at the time. Purposefully avoid the truth.'”

The ruling added, “Based on the article’s statement of facts, we believe that the complaint reasonably claims that reasonable readers can infer that Nunez conspired to conceal the use of undocumented labor on the farm”, and further pointed out that the article also contains allegations “about Conspiracy to conceal farm operations.”

Crowton added in the ruling that this statement may “cause political harm to members of Congress,” such as Nunez, who has publicly expressed support for US immigration and customs enforcement officials.

In August 2020, Judge CJ Williams dismissed Nunes’s lawsuit and stated that he failed to provide evidence that Lizza’s article contained false and defamatory statements about him.

“This article was written from a first-person perspective and contains a large number of examples of Lizza’s subjective psychological impressions. This is not conducive to the reasonable interpretation of the statement as a statement of fact, rather than Lisa’s description or opinion,” the judge wrote.

Nunes is seeking US$75 million in defamation damages and US$2.5 million in punitive damages.

Nunes also filed a lawsuit against Twitter last year, accusing two anonymous imitation accounts of defamation and negligence.

The Epoch Times has contacted Lisa’s lawyer for advice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Senior reporter

Jack Phillips is a reporter for The Epoch Times in New York.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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