In the News

Federal Court Applies Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute for the First Time, Confirming it Creates a Substantive First Amendment Right

In a major boost to the Texas anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) statute, a federal court judge granted a South Texas television’s anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss, applying the state statute in federal court for the first time since its adoption in 2011.

U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Southern District of Texas dismissed the challenge to the anti-SLAPP statute and the argument that it was a procedural rule that conflicted with federal rules. Instead, Judge Ramos held the anti-SLAPP statute creates a significant substantive First Amendment right and should be applied in federal court. It is designed to prevent malicious or frivolous lawsuits that chill free speech. >>



Recent Publications

Law360 Guest Article: A Victory For State Anti-SLAPP Laws

As more states adopt anti-SLAPP legislation (i.e. Oklahoma’s passage this spring and Nevada’s expansion of its anti-SLAPP statute last year), more federal courts must decide whether such laws create a substantive right that should be applied by the federal judiciary. >>



Catherine Robb

Counsel

Austin


600 Congress Avenue
Suite 1300
Austin, 78701
T +1 512.867.8421
F +1 512.867.8611

Áreas de Practica

Educación

  • J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1998, with honors
  • B.A., University of Virginia, 1992

Bar Admissions

  • Texas

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Judicial Clerkships

Law Clerk, Judge W. Royal Furgeson, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, 1998-1999
Catherine Robb

Catherine Robb is counsel in the Business Litigation Practice Group in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. Catherine represents clients in the broadcast industry. Her practice is focused on commercial and business litigation, First Amendment litigation, pre-publication review and editing, copyright and trademark litigation, general commercial litigation, open government issues and privacy concerns. She advises clients concerning media law issues for an extensive array of content providers including online and traditional newspapers, magazines, radio and broadcasters, cable television stations, production companies and music entities.

Selected Client Representations

  • McClain v. USA Today Newspaper, 2010 WL 2404651 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2010). 
  • Rosenfeld v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 37 Med. L. Rptr. 1348 (C.D. Cal. 2009). 
  • In re BP Products North America Inc., 263 S.W.3d 117 (Tex. App. - Hou. [1st Dist.] 2006, no pet.).

Selected Publications and Speeches

  • "Lawsuits Over Political Ads Raise Questions Over Defamation," interviewee, KVUE News, May 2012.
  • "Beyond Thunderdome: The Internet and Social media get Political," KVUE News, May 2012.
  • "Strategies for Efficiently and Economically Winning a Media Case," co-author, ABA/TIPS Media Newsletter, Spring 2011.
  • Reporter's Privilege Compendium, co-author, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 2010.
  • "Local Non-Profit Threatened with Lawsuit Over Documentary Showing," Interviewee, KVUE News, April 2010.
  • "Golly, I Just Got Fined by the FCC Again!" Sedgwick's Media Law Bulletin, January 2009.
  • "What the $#*& is up with the fleeting expletives (and fleeting images)?” co-author, State Bar of Texas - 18th Annual Entertainment Law Institute, October 2-3, 2008.

Professional Recognition

  • Received the "Austin Under 40 Community Service Award," the Austin Young Men's Business League and Austin Young Women's Alliance, 2007

Professional Leadership

  • American Bar Association, Women in Communications Law Committee, member
  • State Bar of Texas, appointed member of the Judicial Relations Committee, 2001-2004 and 2008-2009
  • The First Amendment Institute's First Amendment Leadership Program graduate, 2002
  • The University of Texas' Commission of 125 and Service to Society Committee, member, 2002-2004
  • American Inns of Court - Lloyd Lochridge Inn, Program Chair
  • Media Law Resource Center, Entertainment Law Committee
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Life Fellow

Community Involvement

  • Austin Film Society, board member, 2006-2013, Former Board President
  • Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, board member 2006-2012, Former Board Vice-Chair
  • Austin Music Foundation, board member, 2004-2010
  • Humanities Texas, board member, 2007-2013, Treasurer 2011-2102, Secretary 2102-2013, Current Alumni Board Co-Chair
  • LBJ Library Future Forum, founder, board member, and former chairman, 2002-2013
  • Austin's PBS Channel, KLRU, Chair and board member, Austin City Limits Committee member
  • Mayor's Health and Fitness Council, board member
  • Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, board member, 2004-2011
  • American Heart Association (Capital Area Division), board member, 2003-2009
  • University of Texas School of Undergraduate Studies, advisory council, 2012-present
  • LBJ School of Public Affairs, advisory council, 2011-present
  • Texas Exes Council Member, 2012-present
  • Leadership Austin, member and 2003 Graduate
  • The Seton Forum, former volunteer
  • Reading is Fundamental of Austin, volunteer 
  • Volunteer Legal Services, volunteer
  • Trinity Center, volunteer
  • Back on My Feet, volunteer

Selected Representative Experience


Christopher Williams v. Cordillera Communications, Inc., KVOA Communications, Inc. d/b/a KRIS Communications; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, 2014
Haynes and Boone obtained the first ruling in the state in which a federal court declared the Texas anti-SLAPP statute a substantive right to be applied in federal court. The case, pending in the Southern District of Texas - Corpus Christi Division - involved a local television station's investigative series about a high school teacher and coach who had been accused of improper behavior with students and other improper acts for more than a decade and was permitted to move from school district to school district without having his teacher certification revoked. The court granted the station’s anti-SLAPP motion and requested a hearing on fees and costs.

Brandon Darby, Appellant v. The New York Times Company and James C. McKinley, Jr.
Successfully defended the appeal of a defamation summary judgment ruling in our clients' favor after plaintiff, a former activist and FBI informant, sued our clients, The New York Times and one of its reporters, for $187 million dollars for an article written about an arson at the Texas Governor’s Mansion that mentioned the plaintiff’s relationship, as an FBI undercover informant, to two activists who were convicted for their actions at the 2008 Republican National Convention. We filed a motion for summary judgment asserting the statements made were not capable of a defamatory meaning, were true or substantially true, and privileged and that plaintiff was a public figure and could not establish actual malice. After a hearing on our motion for summary judgment, and before any depositions had been taken, the court granted defendants’ motion and dismissed the case in its entirety. The plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo affirmed on the grounds of actual malice.

Steven Busti v. Platinum Studios, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg; Universal Studios, Inc., d/b/a Universal Pictures; and Dreamworks II Distribution Co., LLC, Cause No. A-11-CA-1029-SS (W.D. Texas), appeal at No. 13-50938 (5th Cir. 2013)
Plaintiff claimed that Cowboys and Aliens (the film and graphic novel) violated the copyright of his eleven-page comic of the same name, which he self-published in 1994. After we filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the defendants, the court awarded summary judgment in their favor, finding there was independent creation, no access, no factual copying, and no substantial similarity. After appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Plaintiff dropped his appeal.

Hogs Dogs & Lace, LLC and Crystal Ward v. A&E Television Networks, LLC, Sharp Entertainment, LLC, Christie Chreene and Julie Snead, 75th Judicial District Court of Liberty County, Texas
Plaintiffs sued our clients, including a production company, for breach of implied contract, fraud, negligence, civil conspiracy, and other causes of action based on plaintiffs' assertions that defendants used plaintiffs' allegedly secret ideas and concepts for a reality television show without compensating plaintiffs. The production company, a New York resident with its principal place of business in New York, filed a special appearance asserting that it was not amenable to the personal jurisdiction of the Texas court and that the court could not exercise either specific or general jurisdiction over it. After briefing and a hearing on the special appearance, the trial court sustained the special appearance and dismissed all claims against the production company.

KTRK Television, Inc. v. Theaola Robinson, Cause No. 01-12-00372-CV; in the First Court of Appeals, Houston, TX
Represented a television station in a libel per se action brought in response to the station's true reports on the closing of a local charter school due to (among other things) a lack of adequate funds and allegations of financial mismanagement and failure to properly account for state funds. Finding that the station had not accused the plaintiff, the former superintendent of the school, of any criminal activity and that the broadcasts were true, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the station's Anti-SLAPP Motion and dismissed the case against the station. The court also held that one cannot rely upon third-party user generated content to establish a defamation per se claim.

Kristina Head a/k/a Kristina Robinson v. Chicory Media, LLC, et al., Cause No. 13-0040; in the 71st District Court of Harrison County, Texas
A participant in a reality television series sued our client, a weekly magazine, for defamation based on its article discussing plaintiff’s appearance on the reality show and allegations made by the mother of plaintiff’s deceased former fiancé. On behalf of the magazine, we filed an answer and anti-SLAPP motion asserting that plaintiff was a public figure, that the article did not say what plaintiff claimed and was not “of and concerning” her, that plaintiff could not establish substantial falsity of the statement at issue, and that the statement was privileged. After a hearing on our anti-SLAPP motion, the court granted the motion and dismissed the case against the magazine.

Memberships

  • American Bar Association 
  • Texas Bar Association 
  • Austin Bar Association 
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Life Fellow 
  • Lloyd Lochridge Inn of Court, member and Program Chair

Online Publications

01/02/2013 - Media Law Resource Center Guest Article: Summary Judgment for Texas Broadcaster Affirmed
The 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi has affirmed summary judgment in a case in favor of Eagle Creek Broadcasting, parent company of KZTV, in a lawsuit brought by a Corpus Christi building official. Garza v. Eagle Creek Broadcasting, 3-10-00573-CV (Tex. App. Dec. 6, 2012) (Valdez, Benevidas, Vela, JJ.).