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Consumers

The TCPA Helps Consumers
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPs”) are meritless lawsuits designed to stifle the lawful exercise of First Amendment rights. Rather than seeking to right a legal wrong, SLAPPs are meant to retaliate against individuals, organizations, or companies for exercising their constitutionally protected rights of free speech, rights to petition, or rights of association.

The Texas Citizens Participation Act protects victims of SLAPP suits by establishing a special motion to expeditiously dismiss these meritless lawsuits. Successful movants under the TCPA are also entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and sanctions, allowing SLAPP victims to recover the costs of defending against these lawsuits and deterring SLAPP filers from bringing these meritless claims.

Since its inception in 2011, the TCPA has repeatedly protected consumers and consumer advocates facing retaliatory lawsuits aimed at intimidating and keeping them from speaking out about products and services in the marketplace.

TCPA Helps

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Examples

  • A husband and wife complained to the Better Business Bureau after discovering that a diamond business replaced the center stone in their ring with a different diamond than the one they had purchased. The TCPA protected the couple after the business sued in response to the complaint. Ford v. Bland, 14-15-00828-CV, 2016 WL 7323309, at *1 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 15, 2016, no pet.).

  • A multi-level marketing company sued a consumer advocate for his comments about the company’s questionable business practices related to the sale of dietary supplements. The TCPA protected the blogger from the retaliatory lawsuit and awarded the defendant attorney’s fees and sanctions. MacFarland v. Le-Vel Brands LLC, 05-16-00672-CV, 2017 WL 1089684, at *3 (Tex. App.—Dallas Mar. 23, 2017, no pet.).

  • The TCPA protected a homeowner, who published a critical online review of a contractor she hired to make an addition to her home, from the contractor’s retaliatory lawsuit. Young v. Krantz, 434 S.W.3d 335 (Tex. App.-Dallas May 28, 2014).

  • The TCPA protected a homeowner’s blog comments about issues related to a real estate developer’s services in the marketplace. Adams v. Starside Custom Builders, LLC, 547 S.W.3d 890 (Tex. 2018), reh'g denied (June 22, 2018).

  • An online mortgage lender sued a home loan applicant and her husband after they posted a critical review of the lender online. A Dallas trial court dismissed the lawsuit and awarded sanctions against the lender for filing a meritless lawsuit aimed at chilling defendants’ speech. Am. Heritage Capital, LP v. Gonzalez, 436 S.W.3d 865, 868 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2014, no pet.).

  • A Dallas-area couple was sued for breach of a non-disparagement clause after the couple left a negative Yelp review about the plaintiff, a pet-sitting company, in which the couple alleged that the plaintiff improperly cared for their pets while they were out of town. The defendants successfully moved to dismiss under the TCPA by establishing that the lawsuit was brought in response to their protected First Amendment rights and that Plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case for each essential element of its claims. Prestigious Pets, LLC v. Duchouquette, No. DC-16-03561, 160th Dist. Ct., Dallas County, Tex. (2016).

  • ADB Interests, LLC brought two lawsuits against individuals who publicly complained about their experience with its “fascia blaster” treatment for cellulite. Defendants were able to use the TCPA to convince the plaintiff from pursuing its meritless claims against these individuals, sparing defendants the costs of defending themselves from meritless claims. See ADB Interests, LLC v. Lanum, No. 2017-48647, 165th Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex. (2017).

Consumer protections groups, like the Better Business Bureau, also count on the TCPA to fend off meritless litigation in response to bad ratings or reviews. For example:

  • Claims against BBB were dismissed—with an award of attorney’s fees—in a lawsuit brought in response to the plaintiff’s poor business rating. Davis & Jones v. Better Business Bureau of Austin, Inc., No. 348-288454-16, 348th Dist. Ct., Tarrant County, Tex. (2017).

  • A law firm and attorney brought a defamation claim arising out of BBB’s assignment of “F” rating, which was ultimately dismissed under the TCPA. Better Bus. Bureau of Metro. Dallas, Inc. v. Lloyd Ward, 401 S.W.3d 440, 444 (Tex. App.—Dallas, pet. denied).

  • A home repair and maintenance company’s claims against BBB for receiving an “F” rating dismissed under the TCPA. Better Bus. Bureau of Metro. Houston, Inc. v. John Moore Servs., Inc., 441 S.W.3d 345, (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2013, pet. denied).

TCPA Helps

Law Enforcement

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Non-Profit Organizations

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Banking and Financial Services

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