Vinson & Elkins Secures Defamation Case Win on Behalf of Black-Owned Community Newspaper
On August 30, 2022, the Tyler Court of Appeals ruled for Vinson & Elkins’ clients, The Dallas Weekly, a Black-owned community newspaper, and its reporter, Steven Monacelli, in a defamation case.
Dallas businessman Monty Bennett and his fledgling website, The Dallas Express, sued The Dallas Weekly and Monacelli for defamation because of an article written by Monacelli and published in The Dallas Weekly in which The Dallas Express was referred to, among other things, as propaganda. Henderson County judge Scott Williams denied the V&E clients’ motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, and the firm appealed to the Tyler Court of Appeals.
On appeal, the Court reversed the trial court’s denial of the TCPA motion to dismiss and rendered judgment for V&E’s clients based on the opinion and truth defenses. The panel remanded for consideration of the clients’ claim for attorney’s fees and court costs and sanctions.
The V&E team was led by senior partner Tom Leatherbury and included associates Ilana Gomez and Angie Garcia, alums Marc Fuller and Hayden Hanson, and Richard Friedl, Randee Williams Koeller, and Sammy Calkins from the SMU Dedman School of Law First Amendment Clinic.
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