Lazy Man and Money Blog Wins Appeal V. Le-Vel
Here is what the owner of the lazy Man and Money blog had to say about his situation:
This is the third time I’ve been sued for trying to help consumers make an informed decision. The previous two times I had lawyers who were greatly sympathetic to my cause and willing to win their fees in what is called an anti-SLAPP motion. They are suing me in Texas, not my home state of Rhode Island. That means that I have to find a lawyer in Texas.
Le-Vel filed their lawsuit against Lazy Man and Money, asserting claims of defamation and business disparagement based on statements published on The Lazy Man and Money blog. Lazy Man and Money filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“TCPA”). The trial court signed an order denying Lazy Man and Money’s motion to dismiss and awarding “costs and reasonable attorney’s fees” to Le-Vel.
This decision was appealed.
The Texas Legislature enacted the TCPA “to encourage and safeguard the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in government to the maximum extent permitted by law and, at the same time, protect the rights of a person to file meritorious lawsuits for demonstrable injury.”
There has been some recent good news on this appeal:
In his appeal, Lazy Man and Money asserted ten issues complaining about the trial court’s denial of his motion to dismiss.
1. Denial of Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to TCPA is his first issue.
In addressing that issue, the court considered Lazy Man and Money’s fourth through tenth issues, all of which are essentially sub-issues of his first issue.
4. Lazy Man and Money asserts the trial court erred by concluding he did not meet his initial burden under the TCPA to show by a preponderance of the evidence that this lawsuit is an action based on, relating to, or in response to his exercise of the right of free speech.
The court decided in favor of Lazy Man and Money on his fourth issue.
5. Lazy Man and Money contends the trial court erred by concluding Le-Vel met its burden to show the “commercial speech” exemption described in TCPA section 27.010(b) is applicable in this case.
The court decided in favor of Lazy Man and Money on his fifth issue.
6/7. In his sixth and seventh issues, Lazy Man and Money contends, respectively, that the trial court erred by concluding Le-Vel presented clear and specific evidence of each element of (1) its “defamation claim” and (2) its “business disparagement claim.”
“To prevail on a business disparagement claim, a plaintiff must establish that (1) the defendant published false and disparaging information about it, (2) with malice, (3) without privilege, (4) that resulted in special damages to the plaintiff.”
The court decided in favor of Lazy Man and Money on his sixth and seventh issues.
The court concluded Le-Vel did not satisfy its burden respecting damages as to any of the fifteen statements upon which its defamation claim is based. They decided in favor of Lazy Man and Money on his first, sixth, and tenth issues. Consequently, the court need not reach his eighth issue.
2/3. In his second and third issues, Lazy Man and Money contends the trial court erred by (1) determining his motion to dismiss was “frivolous or brought solely for the purpose of delay” and (2) awarding Le-Vel “attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses” based on that determination.
The court decided in favor of Lazy Man and Money on his second and third issues.
Lazy Man and Money V. Le-Vel Conclusion
The court decided in Lazy Man and Money’s favor on his first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and tenth issues. They decided they need not reach the eighth and ninth issues.
They reversed the trial court’s order, rendered judgment dismissing Le-Vel’s claims, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with their opinion.
In Texas you are safe to speak your opinion about an MLM that you truthfully believe is a scam.