In the first case reaching the merits of a motion to dismiss under the new Citizens Participation Act, the Dallas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jackson Walker client Univision 23 KUVN and ordered the trial judge to dismiss the case and award damages and costs to the television station.
The court, in a lengthy opinion, found that the Act applied to the Plaintiff’s claim of defamation, and that he had failed to provide “clear and specific evidence” of falsity. The opinion by Justice Doug Lang found that the appellate court had jurisdiction to consider the case even though the trial judge had refused to rule on the motion and ordered discovery.
“This is an important first step in implementing the will of the Legislature,” said Jackson Walker partner Chip Babcock, who argued the case for Univision. “The Court was appropriately sensitive to the free speech interests at stake.”
Jackson Walker has won three other cases under the Act, on behalf of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas, the Houston Community College System and a blog, The Burnt Orange Report.