Politics & Government

Devin Nunes violated agreement to file lawsuits against Twitter in California, Twitter says

Twitter and political strategist Liz Mair have filed to dismiss the lawsuit Rep. Devin Nunes filed against them, arguing Virginia does not have jurisdiction over the case and an agreement Nunes signed that said he had to file disputes against the company in San Francisco.

Nunes, R-Tulare, sued Twitter, Mair and two Twitter parody accounts in March. He alleges the four defendants defamed him through Twitter, contributing to his narrower election victory in 2018 and interfering with his investigations when he served as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

He also filed an additional lawsuit against McClatchy in April regarding news stories published in the Fresno Bee. That lawsuit also names Mair as a defendant. Both lawsuits were filed in Virginia. McClatchy is the Fresno Bee’s parent company.

Mair said she and her attorneys plan to file to dismiss the lawsuit involving McClatchy as well, on similar grounds. Mair said she has not been served with a complaint in either case.

Twitter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed May 9, takes issue with where the lawsuit was filed. Twitter contends Nunes does not have standing to file the lawsuit in Virginia. Twitter is based in California, Nunes is from California and the work his complaint says was impacted occurred in Washington, D.C., the motion argues.

Memorandum in Motion to Dismiss (Nunes v. Twitter) by McClatchyDC on Scribd

“All claims against Twitter should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue,” reads the motion, which was obtained by McClatchy on Tuesday.

Additionally, Twitter says all users electronically sign an agreement to file all lawsuits against Twitter in San Francisco courts. Nunes has a Twitter account and therefore has signed the agreement, the motion argues.

“Plaintiff’s claims against Twitter must also be dismissed at the outset because Plaintiff agreed to, and is now violating, a mandatory forum selection clause that requires disputes concerning Twitter’s Terms or services (such as this one) to ‘be brought solely in the federal or state courts located in San Francisco, California,’” the motion says.

Mair lives in Virginia, but not in Henrico County, where the lawsuit was filed. Mair, who filed her own motion to dismiss the Twitter lawsuit Tuesday, accused Nunes of “forum shopping” in Virginia, when the proper venue is California.

“Presumably because he does not like the law of his home state of California and mistakenly believes he can avoid its application here, Mr. Nunes has given that strategy a strange new twist, seeking to force the trial at a most inconvenient place for everyone involved,” Mair’s motion to dismiss reads. “Ultimately, there is no good reason to try this case in Virginia, despite Mr. Nunes’s apparent efforts to use Ms. Mair as a jurisdictional anchor.”

Nunes, as the plaintiff, has certain advantages if the lawsuit is considered in Virginia rather than California, according to Virginia and California attorneys.

California has strict laws against potentially frivolous lawsuits, including a provision that makes the plaintiff prove early on that the lawsuit has merit. If the plaintiff fails to do so, the plaintiff must repay all of the defendants’ attorneys fees.

The motion to dismiss only addresses what Twitter sees as the Virginia court’s lack of jurisdiction. It does not address any of the complaints Nunes made in his lawsuit, such as the alleged “shadow banning” of conservatives. The phrase is common among right-leaning activists who believe that Twitter and other social media companies suppress the reach of posts by conservatives.

It also does not identify new information about the two Twitter accounts Nunes sued, DevinNunesMom and DevinCow. The latter is still active, but the former account was suspended when the lawsuit was filed and is now operating under the handle NunesAlt. It’s unclear who is running the accounts.

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.