Rex Moats sought election to the Nebraska Legislature in 2008. During the run-up to the election, the Nebraska Republican Party paid for and distributed publications in opposition to Moats's candidacy. Moats filed a defamation lawsuit against the Republican Party on the basis of 10 statements in the publications. He listed the following statements in his complaint:
Publication No. 1: "Trial attorney Rex Moats is a registered Democratic [sic] and the Democrat [sic] Party is supporting him!" Publication No. 2: "Moats received a $50,000 trust fund from the directors of National Warranty." Publication No. 3: "Would you put a shady insurance company based in the Cayman Islands ahead of Nebraska's consumers? You wouldn't. But trial attorney Rex Moats would. . . . " The same publication further stated: "How did Rex Moats mislead creditors and the public? Rex Moats claimed in an affidavit that National Warranty was doing financially well." Publication No. 4 (a mock letter purportedly sent by Moats from the Cayman Islands to Nebraskans): "Greetings from the Cayman Islands. From insurance company trial lawyer extraordinaire Rex Moats." The "letter" also stated, in relevant part:
I have a fantastic job working for a shady insurance company that is incorporated right here in the Cayman Islands. The tax benefits sure are great out here! Unfortunately my company, National Warranty, has gone bankrupt and is unable to pay off numerous claims for thousands of Nebraskans. Also, it looks like I have made misleading statements in an affidavit. Evidently, I claimed that my company is doing "just fine," but then declared bankruptcy two weeks later.
Publication No. 5: "Rex Moats and National Warranty went down as a result of the same irresponsibility we see on Wall Street." Publication No. 6: "Rex Moats cannot be trusted with your money." This publication further stated that Moats was a "trial attorney" and that "National Warranty's directors set aside $50,000 for Rex Moats." Publication No. 7: This publication asserted that Moats was sued but the publication failed, according to the complaint, to disclose that the litigation against him was dismissed without a trial. Publication No. 8: "Rex Moats received a $50,000 golden parachute even though 150 Nebraskans lost their jobs." This publication also stated: "Rex Moats misled creditors and the public about the solvency of National Warranty. Even worse, right before the company folded, Moats received $50,000 from the directors of National Warranty." Publication No. 9: "According to his own letter to the editor of a local newspaper, Rex Moats supports using your tax dollars to fund abortions." Publication No. 10 (listed as No. 11 in Moats's complaint): "Rex Moats was legal counsel for a now bankrupt insurance company that cost Nebraskans their jobs but rewarded Rex with a $50,000 trust," and "Rex Moats supports using tax dollars to fund abortions." In his complaint, Moats claimed that all of the above statements were false and defamatory and that the Republican Party made the statements with actual malice. The Republican Party filed a motion to dismiss, contending that Moats's complaint failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The trial court granted the motion, and Moats appealed.
Was the trial court correct in granting the motion to dismiss?