Jackson Walker partners Charles L. Babcock and Joel R. Glover successfully represented Megalomedia Inc., the production company behind TLC’s “My 600-lb Life,” in a case brought by a group of past subjects of the reality show, which “follows the lives of morbidly obese individuals and documents their attempts to reduce their weight to a healthy level.” In an opinion issued on April 14, 2022, the Texas Thirteenth Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial by operation of law of Megalomedia’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims pursuant to the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act (TCPA) and Megalomedia’s established affirmative defenses.
The consolidated case was originally brought before the 55th District Court of Harris County in 2020 and asserted claims for negligence, gross negligence, intentional affliction of emotional distress, promissory estoppel, and fraudulent inducement. Megalomedia argued that, prior to their appearance on the show, the claimants had signed certain documents, including a talent agreement, an appearance release, and an acknowledgement and agreement to filming.
In its defense, Megalomedia filed TCPA motions to dismiss as to each claimant, arguing that
- the claims were based on the company’s exercise of its rights of free speech and association;
- the claimants could not meet their TCPA burden to avoid dismissal; and
- the company was entitled to judgment pursuant to its established affirmative defenses of express contractual assumption of risk, release of liability, and preclusion based on the parole evidence rule.
The trial court originally did not rule on Megalomedia’s motions to dismiss, and the TCPA motions were denied by operation of law. The company filed a notice of appeal, and the trial court subsequently issued an untimely order granting in part and denying in part its TCPA motions to dismiss, which the company also appealed.
In its recent decision, the Thirteenth Court of Appeals agreed that the trial court erred in allowing Megalomedia’s TCPA motions to dismiss to be denied by operation of law, and dismissed all claims brought against the company.
The case, Megalomedia, Inc. v. Maja Radnovic, Jeanne Covey, Barbara J. Fallaw, Dorothy ‘Dottie’ Perkins, Annjeanette Whaley, Alicia Kirgan, and Matthew Ventress aka Dentinee Lashaee, was brought before Texas Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi – Edinburg on appeal from the 55th District Court of Harris County, Texas. The opinion can be found here. For more information about the lawsuit, visit the following articles:
- Texas Lawyer: “Ex-Subjects of My 600-Lb Life Lose Big in Negligence Lawsuit”
- Law360: “Texas Panel Tosses Claims Against ‘My 600-lb Life’ Producer”
Founded in 1887, Jackson Walker continues to advance the world of business by helping companies of all sizes navigate today’s increasingly complex, interconnected legal landscape. With over one-third of the Firm’s more than 400 attorneys practicing litigation, JW has one of the largest trial practices in the Southwest and has been recognized as a National Tier 1-ranked “Best Law Firm” in the area of First Amendment litigation for nine consecutive years. To explore the Firm’s experience defending media clients against libel, obscenity, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress cases, visit our Media practice page.