Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images
The first hearing in Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.’s lawsuit against Twitter lasted three hours in a Virginia courtroom and did not end in a ruling.
The Fresno-area Republican filed the lawsuit against the social media company and three individual users in Virginia state court in March, and is seeking seeking $250 million in damages for defamation.
Two of the accounts in question, Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom, often post derogatory memes directed at the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The third user being sued is Republican strategist Liz Mair.
Twitter asked the Virginia judge to dismiss the lawsuit during Friday’s hearing since the company has no operations in the state. The judge did not issue a ruling but one could be coming in the next week, according to the Fresno Bee.
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The Bee also reported that about 20 supporters of the Devin Nunes’ Cow account showed up to watch the hearing, all of whom wore cow-themed T-shirts. Some of them even wore cow ears and brought stuffed animals and signs.
A number of these cow supporters found the colorful metaphors of Nunes’ lawyer Steven Biss amusing, and laughed during his remarks.
Biss compared Twitter allowing the parody accounts to post memes to someone negligently giving someone a gun, among other things.
“What if you set a fire on your property and I told you it was choking my baby?” Biss said, according to the Bee. “You should have to put it out.”
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The Bee reported lawyers from Twitter were also combative, with attorney Patrick J. Carome stating Nunes accepted a user agreement that would allow him to sue Twitter in California, and not Virginia.
“Mr. Nunes tries to get through a lot of twists and bends to say, ‘Oh, this doesn’t apply to me,’ but this is a contract that applies to all Twitter users,” Carome said, before stating Nunes was a congressman and not a “country bumpkin.”
Nunes’ lawsuit was first reported by Fox News in March. In the filed complaint, the congressman and his lawyers alleged that Twitter “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory – providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform.”
Specifically, the complaint took exception to Mair implying “that Nunes colluded with prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes does cocaine, and that Nunes was involved in a “Russian money laundering front.” The complaint also mentioned a tweet featuring a crude meme referencing the horror movie, “Human Centipede” which was sent from the Devin Nunes’ Mom account.
You can read more on the lawsuit from the Bee here.
Eric Ting is an SFGATE staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter:@_ericting
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