Jackson Walker won a significant victory for its client on April 1, 2015, when the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas ruled that a newspaper was entitled to attorney’’ fees in a motion to dismiss granted under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) even after the plaintiff had nonsuited its claims.
In 2013, Breitling Oil and Gas Corporation sued Jackson Walker’s client, Petroleum Newspapers of Alaska LLC doing business as Petroleum News Bakken, over an article the newspaper published. In response, Petroleum News filed a motion to dismiss under the TCPA, the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted Petroleum News’ motion to dismiss and awarded the newspaper attorneys’ fees of approximately $82,000.
The appeals court held that the trial court was within its authority to grant the motion and award attorneys’ fees even though Breitling had filed a notice of nonsuit prior to the trial court’s decision on the motion to dismiss. The ruling marked a decisive win for the client and carries important implications for future defendants seeking anti-SLAPP protection, said Jackson Walker partner Shannon Teicher.
“It is a significant victory for media defendants and other citizens exercising their constitutional rights to be able to recover attorneys’ fees and sanctions after a nonsuit,” Ms. Teicher said in an article about the case published in Law360. “If it were otherwise, then critical protections for speech under the TCPA would be eviscerated.”
Petroleum News was represented by a Jackson Walker team including Ms. Teicher and Chip Babcock. The Firm has played a key role in helping shape the course of Anti-SLAPP law in Texas, having won numerous cases under the TCPA, including victories on behalf of IntegraCare of Texas, LLC, the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas, the Houston Community College System, Univision 23 KUVN, and The Burnt Orange Report.