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, privileged and 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, the court awarded summary judgment in favor of the defendants, 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 our client.
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
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.