Jackson Walker Secures Appellate Victory for ‘The Dallas Morning News’ in Libel Suit by Senate Candidate

July 23, 2015 | Client Results

On June 26, 2015, Jackson Walker won a victory for The Dallas Morning News when the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas dismissed a defamation suit brought against the newspaper by a former political candidate.

The unsuccessful candidate sued the newspaper over its editorial endorsing U.S. Senator John Cornyn in the Republican primary in spring 2014. The editorial noted provocative comments made by the candidate to the newspaper’s editorial board regarding illegal immigration.

The News initially sought dismissal of the suit under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, the state’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. The trial court failed to rule on the motion within the time period set out in the statute, and The News‘ motion was denied by operation of the law.

The appeals court reversed the denial of the motion, rendered judgment dismissing all claims against The News, and remanded the case to the trial court for a determination of costs, attorney’s fees, and other expenses. The appeals court found that the editorial reasonably interpreted the candidate’s remarks, and thus the plaintiff could not prove that the newspaper published a false statement about him with actual malice.

The News was represented on appeal by Jackson Walker attorneys Paul Watler, Shannon Zmud Teicher, and James McFall. 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 Petroleum News Bakken; IntegraCare of Texas, LLC; the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas; the Houston Community College System; Univision 23 KUVN; and The Burnt Orange Report.