Last month, we wrote about how Devin Nunes had lost yet another of his many, many SLAPP suits against various critics online for being mildly critical of the former congressman, who seems to have the thinnest skin imaginable. As you’ll recall, Nunes’ chronic SLAPP infatuation began a little over three years ago with a lawsuit against a satirical online cow who mocked him. While most people don’t realize it, that lawsuit is still going on (other defendants, namely Twitter and Liz Mair have gotten out of it), but technically the suit against the cow lives on, in part because Nunes and his lawyer, Steven Biss, have claimed they’re unable to identify the cow.
That was part of what made the lawsuit we discussed last month bizarrely interesting. It appeared, like so many of his lawsuits, to be a frivolous, censorial, attempt to intimidate critics into silence. This time it was against a guy named Benjamin Meredith, who also apparently sometimes made fun of Nunes online. Of course, given that the 1st Amendment protects speech, and Nunes’ various attempts at defamation claims haven’t done so well, this case was mostly styled as a “cyberstalking” case, but with little evidence supplied to back up the claims. However, as part of the case, Nunes made an extremely convoluted argument, relying on a lot of unsupported conjecture, that Meredith’s wife, was behind the @DevinCow account.
The judge was (quite reasonably) unimpressed by the whole thing and dismissed the lawsuit. However, the court left open the ability for Nunes to amend at least one claim, if he could present some actual evidence of stalking.
Last week, Nunes and Meredith submitted a joint filing, noting that the case had been settled.
Plaintiff, DEVIN NUNES, and Defendant, BEN PAUL MEREDITH, by and through their respective counsel, hereby stipulate and agree that this action, including the complaint, any prospective amended complaint, and all pending motions and matters, shall be dismissed with prejudice, with each party bearing his own costs and attorney’s fees.
This is, perhaps not that surprising. Meredith had incentive to settle because it fucking sucks to have to deal with a vexatious lawsuit, even if you’re in the right. And, even if most of the claims had been dismissed, getting the case over and done with is often preferable from a mental health standpoint than continuing to fight. Nunes had ample incentive to settle as well because, as we noted, this case was in a California court and subject to California’s relatively strong anti-SLAPP law, meaning that if he continued to lose in court (as seemed likely) there was a decently high likelihood that he would have ended up having to pay for all of Meredith’s accumulated legal fees in this case. And with Nunes’ little startup struggling to find users and stay relevant — not to mention potentially facing some legal scrutiny over its financing plans — perhaps he’d rather not be on the hook for Meredith’s legal bills.
Anyway, that’s yet another of Nunes’ SLAPP lawsuits down the drain. I still find it hilarious that he insists he’s a free speech warrior running a free speech website (that regularly bans users) when he’s one of the most notorious filers of SLAPP suits to try to silence people. Also, did anyone ever figure out who’s paying for his lawsuits?
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