SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — A lawsuit against a journalist accused of defaming a former California congressman, his family, and their Iowa farm has been dismissed in federal court.

U.S. Judge C.J. Williams of the Northern District of Iowa filed the order and his opinion Tuesday, granting Hearst Magazines’ and former reporter Ryan Lizza’s motion for summary judgment in the case.

On September 30, 2018, the story entitled “Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret” by Lizza was published online on September 30, 2018. The story was later published in Esquire magazine in November 2018.

Lizza wrote the story after traveling in August 2018 to the small farming community of Sibley, Iowa. The story focused on Nunes’ parents, brother, and other family members who have lived and operated a family dairy farm there for more than a decade even though Nunes continued to tout his deep roots around his family’s Tulare, California, dairy farms.

The story also delved into the sensitive issue of immigrants living illegally in Iowa and working at the family’s dairy farms.

In 2019, Devin Nunes, a former U.S. Congressman of California and former top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, filed a $77.5 million lawsuit against Esquire publisher Hearst Magazines and Lizza. The lawsuit alleged that a story Lizza wrote about the farm and published online on September 30, 2018, caused “injury to his good name and professional reputation.” Nunes called the story a “hit piece.”

Another lawsuit was filed on January 16, 2020, by Anthony Nunes, Jr., Anthony Nunes III, and NuStar Farms, LLC against Herst and Lizza.

The court dismissed the lawsuit in August 2020. It was appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, who agreed in part and reversed in part, sending the case back over a November 20, 2019 tweet by Lizza.

The two lawsuits were consolidated into a single case in February 2022.

An analysis by a expert hired by Hearst and Lizza found that 239 of the 319 hired by NuStar and employed before Sep. 30, 2018, had provided counterfeit documentation. NuStar and the other defendents denied the conclusion. At the time of the July 2021 report, Hearst’s expert concluded, and NuStar denied, that nine of the undocumented workers were still employed by NuStar Farms.

In the opinion, Williams dismissed the defamation claim and the defamation by implication claims in the combined lawsuit. The judge determined in the claim of defamation that there was no real issue that “the alleged defamatory statements were false.” The judge also stated that the “assertion that NuStar knowingly used undocumented labor is substantially, objectively true” and that there was “no genuine issue of material fact as to negligence.”

In the NuStar claim of defamation by implication, the judge stated that NuStar and other plaintiffs “cannot show a genuine issue of material fact on several elements of their implication claim,” so it had to be dismissed. Adding that there was “no issue regarding the material fact.”

The court found “no genuine issue of material fact as to republication” and that there was no issue regarding recoverable damages and injury to Nunes.

Williams’ order can be appealed.

Nunes left Congress to run the social media platform Truth Social, which is largely owned by former President Donald Trump.

Lizza now works for the news organization Politico.

AP contributed to this report.