Paul C. Watler

Paul C. Watler  -  Partner
Litigation, Media, Intellectual Property Litigation, Appellate, Internet / E-commerce

Education
* B.J., The University of Texas at Austin
* J.D., The University of Texas School of Law
* Member, Texas Law Review
Court Admissions
* 1981, Texas
* Supreme Court of the State of Texas
* United States Supreme Court
* United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
* United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Tenth Circuits
* United States District Court for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
Civil Trial Law

MH

Paul C. Watler has been a trial lawyer for more thanĀ 30 years helping clients fight for their rights at the courthouse. He focuses his practice on complex commercial and media litigation. He is a board-certified civil trial lawyer and has won million dollar verdicts at jury trial in federal and state courts for plaintiffs and defendants.

Mr. Watler was named by Texas Lawyer magazine as the "Go To" lawyer for media litigation in the state of Texas, placing him among an elite group of the state's top 29 lawyers across all practice areas.

Mr. Watler has been a leader in shaping Internet law applied to content providers. In a case of first impression under Texas law in the Fifth Circuit, the federal appeals court held that the single publication rule can be used to bar libel claims against Internet publishers on limitations grounds. In another leading case for Internet publishers, Mr. Watler successfully argued that Web bloggers should be protected against being hauled into distant courts with which they lacked minimum contacts.

Mr. Watler's litigation victories include the first Texas Supreme Court opinion defining a public figure in a libel case, a suit which arose out of the Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas. He has successfully defended Texas newspapers and broadcasters in numerous libel and privacy cases for more than 20 years, many of which have been high-profile. Mr. Watler's media clients have included major metropolitan and national newspapers, magazines, and wire services, as well as television stations in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Beaumont, Waco, New Orleans, Boston and Aiken, S.C.

Mr. Watler also has notable experience in health care and antitrust law. He has served as lead counsel for a major Texas hospital system in a case involving an antitrust counterclaim for an attempt to monopolize the market for managed care health services. He represented a hospital system's officer/directors in a medical malpractice action. He was also a member of trial team that successfully defended a major Texas newspaper publisher in a jury trial against antitrust claims by a chief competitor.

Mr. Watler has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1995, where he is currently recognized in three categories, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and First Amendment Law. Mr. Watler has been named one of the 250 Best Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by Thomson Reuters annually since 2003.

Mr. Watler's trial experience covers a wide range of complex cases including libel, employment, securities, banking, media, intellectual property, antitrust, oil and gas, and real estate. He has successfully defended business clients against an assortment of claims such as tortious interference, intentional infliction of emotional distress, Lanham Act claims, unfair competition, false advertising, copyright and trademark infringement, securities fraud, employment discrimination, and wrongful termination He has maintained certification as a specialist in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1990.

Attorney Profile: Paul Watler — Protecting what matters

Representative Matters

 

Commercial Litigation
Mr. Watler has represented a cross-section of leading Texas corporations in a variety of complex matters, including:


 * Obtaining a verdict at jury trial to preserve the historical right to draw water for beneficial use from the Edwards Aquifer by one of the largest employers in New Braunfels, Texas. The judgment included an award of more than $500,000 in attorney fees to Mr. Watler's client.

 * Securing the right of a start-up Dallas-based airline to offer long-haul service from Love Field in Dallas in a highly publicized "David v. Goliath" fight over the Wright Amendment.

 * Obtaining a defense verdict at jury trial to vindicate a Dallas-based media corporation in a dispute over a television station acquisition.

 * Defending a San Antonio television station at jury trial against breach of contract claims by a former news anchor.

 

Media Litigation
A newspaper reporter before attending law school, Mr. Watler has represented newspapers, television stations and journalists throughout his legal career of more than 26 years. Some of his notable cases include:


 * The leading decision by the Texas Supreme Court defining a public figure in a libel suit.

 * The first Texas case recognizing the privilege of a news reporter as a defendant in a libel suit to not disclose the identity of confidential news sources.

 * The leading Fifth Circuit opinion applying the "single publication rule" to an Internet publisher in a libel case.

 * The leading Fifth Circuit opinion on personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in an Internet defamation case.

 * Winning a Texas Supreme Court decision establishing the right of journalists under the state freedom of information law to obtain governmental records.

 * Representing metropolitan daily newspapers in unsealing court records in a widely-reported priest sex abuse case.

 * Defending a leading Texas daily newspaper against allegations of computer hacking in connection with the high-profile news report of the "confession" of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

In addition to success in the courtroom, Mr. Watler frequently counsels news media clients on how to prevent libel and privacy suits. His clients have received the highest awards in journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and multiple presentations of the Columbia/DuPont Silver Baton and the Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism, for projects in which Mr. Watler provided First Amendment legal counsel.

 

IP Litigation
Mr. Watler has handled a number of copyright, trademark, and unfair competition cases during his more than 26 years of practice. He has routinely provided counsel to a major news media corporation regarding fair use of copyrighted material. In the courthouse, Mr. Watler has:


 * Defended a national magazine publisher against trademark/trade name infringement claims.

 * Pursued trademark/trade name infringement claims on behalf of a regional cable news network.

 * Defended a Texas cable news network and network affiliate broadcaster against claims of copyright infringement for use of a studio portrait in news reporting on the high-profile "cadet murder case" in Fort Worth.

 * Represented a major Texas hospital system in the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall against claims of unfair competition and false advertising.

 * Defended a major Dallas/Fort Worth advertising agency in a dispute over creation of a trade name.

 

Appellate Law
Effective appellate advocacy has been a hallmark of Mr. Watler's legal career. His appellate cases range from media litigation to aviation, oil and gas, banking, securities, commercial law, and criminal defense. He has argued winning cases in the Texas Supreme Court, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and intermediate state appellate courts across Texas. In addition to the Texas Supreme Court, Mr. Watler is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Third, Fifth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal.

Examples of appellate cases or published opinions in cases handled by Mr. Watler include the following:


 * Nguyen v. The Dallas Morning News, L.P. et al., 2008 WL 2511183 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth June 19, 2008). Diocesan records of alleged sexual misconduct by a Catholic priest filed with court ordered unsealed under Tex.R.Civ.P. 76a.

 * Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts v. Attorney General of Texas, 244 S.W.3d 629 (Tex.App.—Austin, January 17, 2008, pet. pending). Privacy case affirming right to access dates of birth of public employees.

 *  Nationwide Bi-Weekly Administration, Inc. v. Belo Corp., et al., 512 F.3d 137, 36 Media L. Rep. 1065 (5th Cir. 2007). Single publication rule can be used to bar libel claims against Internet publishers on limitations grounds.

 * Belo Corp. v. Publicaciones Paso Del Norte, S.A. De C.V., 243 S.W.3d 152 (Tex.App.—El Paso, September 20, 2007). Interlocutory appeal of denial of defendants' motion for summary judgment in newspaper vs. newspaper libel case. Reversed, and summary judgment granted to defendants on absence of malice issue.

 

CLICK HERE to view more cases.

Memberships

Mr. Watler is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Dallas Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, the College of the State Bar of Texas, and the Media Law Resource Center. He is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Dallas Bar Foundation.

Mr. Watler has served several terms as chair of the Media Relations Committee of the Dallas Bar Association and chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the State Bar of Texas. He was selected to serve on the inaugural Advertising Review Committee of the State Bar of Texas to help implement the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct regulating lawyer marketing and solicitation. Mr. Watler was appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to a Special Rules Advisory Committee tasked with writing court rules for controversial judicial by-pass abortion access legislation enacted by the Texas Legislature.

Community Involvement

Mr. Watler served as president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas in 1996-99 and is on the Foundation's board of directors. He also serves on the board of directors of North Texas Public Broadcasting (KERA). He formerly served on the board of directors of the Lake Highlands Family YMCA and as president of the Oakhurst and Twin Bridge homeowner associations. He was a youth soccer coach for 10 years and an adult leader in Boy Scout Troop 890.

Awards

Mr. Watler was announced in Texas Lawyer's October 2007 "Go-To Guide" as the "Go-To-Lawyer" for Media Law. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1995, where he is currently recognized in four categories: Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, First Amendment Law, and First Amendment Litigation. He was named a "Super Lawyer" by Thomson Reuters (2003-2014). He was awarded the James Madison Award by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and was twice named Associate of the Year by the Texas Association of Broadcasters. As a newspaper reporter before attending law school, Mr. Watler received news writing awards from Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Texas Press Association.

Publications & Speaking Engagements
Mr. Watler authored "Perimeter Rules, Proprietary Powers and the Airline Deregulation Act: A Tale of Two Cities and Two Airports," 66 J. of Air Law & Commerce 1 (2000).

Mr. Watler has been a frequent speaker and writer at CLE events on First Amendment, libel litigation, and Texas civil procedure.

* Texas Web Publishers Earn Novel Protection Against Stale Lawsuits

* VIA Media Postcard: 18 1/2 Minutes vs. 2 Years – Then and Now

* VIA Media Postcard: My Night of Selfies

* VIA Media Postcard: Can't Handle the Truth§ The Truth Defense in the Texas Supreme Court

* VIA Media Postcard: Texas Anti-SLAPP Wins for Media Defendants

* VIA Media Postcard: Political Ads on Public Broadcast Stations

* VIA Media Postcard: A Million to None in Texas Defamation Rulings

* VIA Media Postcard - Supreme Court Set for First Amendment Review of Stolen Valor Act

* VIA Media Postcard: Why Mark Zuckerberg Won't Sue Over 'The Social Network'

* VIA Media Postcard: The Problem with the Texas Public Information Act

* VIA Media Postcard: Newspaper Leads Much-Needed Change for Dallas, Wins Pulitzer

* Candidate's Guide to Election Free Speech

* VIA Media Postcard: Breaking the First Amendment Barrier

* Key Recent Technology Law Cases

* VIA Media Postcard: Fraud Claims From Market Meltdown Test First Amendment Defenses

* Protecting Journalists' Sources: The New Texas Shield Law

* The Texas Journalist Shield Law

* New Law Protects Journalists in Civil & Criminal Cases

* Companies Hosting Third-Party Content Beware: Promises Can Get You in Trouble

* Commentary: Journalists' Shield Law Affects Civil and Criminal Lawyers

* VIA Media Postcard: Copyright Infringement vs. Fair Use

* Media Law Review 2009

* 'FOIA Abuse' a Topic After Mass Release of E-mails

* Candidate's Guide to Election Free Speech

* Stealth Discovery: Using the Texas Public Information Act

* VIA Media Postcard: Can New Media Check Campaign Spin§

* Court Orders Priest Sex Abuse Records Unsealed on Newspapers' Motion

* VIA Media Postcard: Free Speech and Baseball

* VIA Media Postcard: In Defense of Free Expression and Bad Music

* Branzburg v. Hayes: Two Faces of First Amendment Privilege

* The First Amendment and Press Shield Laws

* Federal Safe Harbor for Web Forums Grows Smaller After Ninth Circuit Ruling

* VIA Media Postcard: Bloggers and the First Amendment: More on Cyber Free Speech

* VIA Media Postcard: Gag Orders and the Media

* Texas Lawyer - The Go-To Lawyer Guide: Media Law

* VIA Media Postcard: Reporters as government witnesses, more

* VIA Media Postcard: Conrad Black - An Absence of Actual Malice, more

* Reporters' shield law dies on point of order; JW experts urge carrying on the fight
News
* Paul Watler Presents 2014 James Madison Award on Behalf of Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 51 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Jackson Walker Defends Texas Broadcaster in Precedent–Setting Libel Case

* Jackson Walker Successfully Represents Clients in Open-Courtroom Case

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America 2015

* Paul Watler Featured in 'Texas Press' on Defamatory Statements

* Jackson Walker Wins Victory for 'Dallas Morning News' in Public Records Case

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 55 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America 2014

* Paul Watler Presents James Madison Award on Behalf of Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas

* Paul Watler and Steve Fogle Speak at 'Investigative Reporters and Editor's Conference 2013'

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 50 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America 2013

* Jackson Walker Hosts 'Managing Litigation as a Business' Seminar

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 46 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Paul Watler Speaks on Ethical Considerations in Law

* Steve Fogle and Paul Watler Speak at Texas Association of Broadcasters Workshop

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 41 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America

* Paul Watler Named Chair of the State Bar of Texas' Public Affairs Committee

* Paul Watler Speaks on Key Recent Technology Law Cases

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its 38 "Texas Super Lawyers"

* Paul Watler Speaks on the New Texas Shield Law

* Paul Watler Presents James Madison Awards to Senator Ellis and Rep. Hunter

* Jackson Walker Congratulates Its Best Lawyers in America

* Featured Attorneys

901 Main Street, Suite 6000 Dallas, TX 75202

 T: 214.953.6069 |  F: 214.661.6669 |  pwatler@jw.com