Adams v. Starside Custom Builders, LLC, 547 S.W.3d 890 (2018) was the first Texas Ant-Slapp opinion of 2018, and the last in our review. In this ugly dispute between a homeowner and a real estate developer (Starside), Starside sued the homeowner for business disparagement and later defamation. The trial court dismissed the business disparagement claim (which was non-suited by an amended petition after the Texas Anti-Slapp motion was filed) but did not rule on the defamation claim (added by the same amended petition). Because the trial court did not timely rule as to defamation claim the motion was denied by operation of law and homeonwner appealed. The Dallas COA upheld the denial and the TSC reversed and remanded for a determination as to whether Starside met the elements of defamation (which the Dallas COA did not reach).
The TSC noted that the Texas Anti-Slapp “casts a wide net.” Something litigants realize all too late. The TSC also determined that homeowner adequately raised whether the amended petition fell under the community or environmental well being prongs of the right to free speech, even though such arguments were apparently raised only in oral argument at the trial court.
As noted in an early blog post, the Starside battle is not over. The Dallas COA recently dismissed part of the defamation claim but determined that Starside met the elements for a separate defamatory statement. And it only took three years to get back to the starting point.