I’ve been on hiatus for a few weeks. I’ll be posting some new opinions this weekend, but nothing shocking has occurred over the last couple of weeks.
However, yesterday (April 5) the Texas Supreme Court issued West v. Quintanilla, --- S.W.3d ---- (2019) (TSC April 2019). The opinion does not delve into the specifics of whether the Texas Anti-Slapp applied to the dispute, but practitioners should focus on on the footnotes, in particular, instruction from the Court to focus on the pleadings for establishing clear and specific evidence of the challenged cause of action (Step 2 for those that follow this blog).
Short version of the underlying facts: the case is a contract interpretation dispute between two individuals. Defendant filed liens against Plaintiff’s real property. Plaintiff sued for slander of title to remove the liens, breach of contract, declaratory judgment, etc.
Defendant filled a Texas Anti-Slapp based on Free Speech and Right to Petition (lien challenges trigger right to petition - although the TSC does not delve into that issue):.
TC denied Anti-Slapp.
COA reversed applying the substantive “parole evidence” rule.
TSC reversed the COA and remanded to consider other legal and evidentiary points.
The reversal all turned on an analysis of the parole evidence rule..
Here is the footnote quote from the TSC.
The TCPA directs us to “consider the pleadings and any supporting and opposing affidavits” in “determining whether the plaintiff’s claim should be dismissed.” In re Lipsky, 460 S.W.3d 579, 587 (Tex. 2015) (citing TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 27.006(a) ). We have recently observed that the pleadings are “the best and all-sufficient evidence of the nature of the action.” Hersh v. Tatum, 526 S.W.3d 462, 467 (Tex. 2017) (quoting Stockyards Nat’l Bank v. Maples, 127 Tex. 633, 95 S.W.2d 1300, 1302 (Tex. Comm’n App.) ); see id. at 468 (holding that movant established application of the Act “[b]y relying on the language used in the ... pleadings”).
The takeaway - whether presenting or defending a Texas Anti-Slapp, focus on the factual allegations of the pleadings.