Timing is Everything in the Texas Anti-Slapp

The Texas Anti-Slapp has specific timing components that a practitioner should strictly follow.  First, you have 60 days to file a motion to dismiss from the date of service.  You can ask to file late, but given the purpose of the statute is create a quick dismissal mechanism, better not to take the risk.  Second, you need to promptly set the hearing and it needs to be heard within 60 days of service of the motion.  Under certain circumstances it can be extended to 90 days, with a maximum of 120 days (but only if the trial court allows a party to conduct discovery).  See §27.003 -004.

In Evelyn Mancilla and Sales Tax International, LLC v. Taxfree Shopping, Ltd, (No. 05-18-00136-CV), the Dallas COA recently upheld the denial of an Anti-Slapp motion targeting a misappropriation of trade secrets claim because it was untimely filed.    Although it did not apply in this case, the Dallas COA also pointed out a pitfall for the unwary, if a plaintiff amends to add new claims or a new party a new Anti-Slapp motion can be filed by the new party or against the new claim.

Not only do you need to understand the timing components to preserve Anti-Slapp rights, amendments to claims or counterclaims can trigger additional Anti-Slapp motions.  Given the liberal amendment rules in Texas state courts (something that is unique to our rules of civil procedure) practitioners need to carefully consider the risks associated with such amendments.

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