The Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) covers more than you think.
In 2011, the Texas legislature passed Chapter 27 of the civil practices and remedies code, commonly referred to as the TCPA, the Texas Citizens Participation Act, or the Anti-SLAPP Statute.
What is the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) for?
The stated intent of the legislature was to encourage and safeguard constitutional rights and free speech. Since its passage, the Citizens Participation Act has unexpectedly come to dominate both civil, trial, and appellate courts.
When Does the TCPA Apply?
The act applies to communications regarding matters of public concern, which involve either the right of free speech, the right to petition, or the right of association. If you get sued, the act allows you a short, inexpensive way to immediately ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit and recover your legal expenses.
It creates a risk for folks who file a lawsuit, as the case could be dismissed, and they could owe the other side’s legal expenses.
What Does the TCPA Do?
Filing the motion effectively stops the proceedings which reduces cost. You get a hearing on the motion within 60 days. That’s quick, in the lawsuit world. The guy that filed suit must show proof for every element of his case. The court must rule in 30 days. If granted, the court must award you your attorney’s fees. If denied, the lawsuit is still stopped until after a trip to the court of appeals. This is an incredibly powerful defensive tool.
What is a Communication About a Matter of Public Concern?
It covers more than you think. Texas courts have held the following are matters of public concern: Communications by an employee to a competitor about a trade secret, claims that a former partner was excluded from an approved vendor list, emails concerning the competence of a nurse, denying someone the right to purchase radio time, investment offering documents, and even obituaries.
In other words, the act covers lots of things.
If you get sued or are thinking of suing somebody, you would be wise to ask a lawyer about the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA).