Devin Nunes has sued Twitter and Twitter users including Liz Mair, Mair’s company, and two others who are alleged to have engaged in a coordinated campaign of defamation against him, while Twitter is alleged to have silenced Nunes himself. The complaint asserts causes of action for defamation per se (I think that should be libel per se), but also negligence, insulting words and common law conspiracy. The complaint indicates that it is to be filed in state court in Virginia, where Mair is a resident, though it is not clear that it has in fact been filed yet. If so, I don’t think the action would be removable to federal court.
The complaint seeks an injunction as a separate cause of action. I think, however, this would simply constitute a form of relief in addition to compensatory damages of $250,000,000 and punitive damages of $350,000,000. Remember, folks, plaintiff who have suffered dignitary damages get to pluck the numbers from the air. I have embedded the complaint below via Scribd.
I hope Nunes can prevail and/or get to a jury on one or more of these claims, but they strike me as a stretch. Query whether Twitter is protected from liability for defamation under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act or whether the allegations of paragraphs 1-2 may circumvent this protection. I hesitate to say more than this: Nunes appears to have suffered outrageous wrongs. Read the complaint. As to the viability of the claims asserted as a matter of law, I hope Paul Mirengoff might be persuaded to weigh in.
The wrongs alleged, however, may not have a remedy. See, e.g., Hustler Magazine v. Falwell. Moreover, I am quite certain that this allegation in paragraph 41 is flatly mistaken: “As a citizen of the United States of America and as a United States Congressman sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of this great country, Nunes has a fundamental constitutional interest and entitlement to the uninterrupted enjoyment of his reputation.”
Nunes Complaint – 3.18.19 by on Scribd