Jackson Walker Defends Texas Broadcaster in Precedent-Setting Libel Case

September 2, 2014 | Client Results

In a case of first impression for a state appellate court, Jackson Walker successfully defended its client against a libel suit arising from a news report posted to the internet.

Jackson Walker partner Paul Watler represented KBTX–TV of Bryan–College Station, Texas in a case before the Texas 14th Court of Appeals in Houston. The case, Mayfield v. Gray Television Group, Inc., involved libel claims brought against the TV station by a disbarred Houston attorney arising from online reporting on her felony conviction for forgery. The reports were posted to the Internet in 2007–08, but the suit was not filed until 2011.

The appeals court affirmed summary judgment in favor of KBTX–TV, based on the one–year statute of limitations for libel in Texas. The decision marked the first time a Texas appeals court has applied the “single publication rule” to a media report posted online.

Mr. Watler was quoted in an Aug. 22, 2014, Texas Lawbook article detailing the case and its potential implications. To read the full article (subscription required), CLICK HERE.

“The Mayfield opinion is the latest example of a court having to apply analog case law to the digital era,” Mr. Watler told the publication. “In my opinion, the decision by the 14th Court will be frequently cited in future cases as the leading Texas authority on this point.”

To read a related e–Alert providing more details about the case, CLICK HERE.