In what has become a regularly reoccurring result, a lawsuit filed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R) and his attorney Steve Biss has been tossed out of court — this time for good.
A federal judge in Virginia this week dismissed with prejudice the California congressman’s complaint against Fusion GPS, the research and investigative firm behind the production of the “Steele Dossier” in 2016. The dismissal means Nunes will not be afforded the opportunity to amend any deficiencies and re-file the case. Nunes had previously filed three different versions of the lawsuit that were dismissed without prejudice.
Initially filed in 2019, the suit accused Fusion GPS, its founder Glenn Simpson, and watchdog group the Campaign for Accountability of “ongoing and continuous racketeering activities” as part of “a joint and systematic effort to intimidate, harass, threaten, influence, interfere with, impede, and ultimately to derail Plaintiff’s congressional investigation into Russian election interference.” Citing the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Nunes alleged that the defendants engaged in a broad plan to interfere with his official duties. Nunes also alleged that the defendants filed fraudulent ethics complaints against him that “were solely designed to harass and intimidate.”
But U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston of the Eastern District of Virginia, an appointee of Donald Trump himself, reasoned that Nunes failed to allege facts sufficient to show that any “association-in-fact enterprise” existed between the defendants as required to proceed under the civil RICO statute.
“Critically, no reading of the facts alleged in Plaintiff’s Second Amended complaint can support a finding that an enterprise operated with the purpose or relationships the law requires,” he wrote. “Instead, the Second Amended Complaint is best read to allege that Defendants and the three other individuals and entities named in that document engaged in independent, parallel conduct directed at Plaintiff Nunes. By Plaintiff’s own telling, the entities and persons involved had different memberships and methods — even assuming they all shared the same generalized ‘motive’ to harm Plaintiff’s political career. On its face, this is insufficient evidence of an association-in-fact enterprise with a shared purpose.”
Nunes’s lawsuits have repeatedly been rejected by courts, but the litigious congressman — who infamously attempted to sue a fake cow and parody of his own mom — has continued to aggressively pursue litigation. His lawsuits against CNN, the Washington Post, and journalist Ryan Lizza have all been expectedly tossed by judges.
After pointing out a multitude of additional reasons why the Nunes complaint against Fusion GPS failed almost every element required of a proper RICO complaint, Judge Alston put a definitive end to any future litigation in the matter.
“Plaintiff’s counsel is reminded that litigation ‘asserted in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment’ may be met with sanctions. Here, Plaintiff’s counsel has filed three complaints in this case since September of 2019. The Court has not issued a favorable ruling on any of the claims Plaintiff asserts,” Alston wrote. “Accordingly, the Court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s RICO claims is with prejudice and without leave to amend because in the Court’s view, amendment would be futile.”
“At some point, litigation must end,” he added, quoting from an earlier case decided in the Eastern District.
Read the full ruling below.
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
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