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

We represented a Corpus Christi television station that ran a series of investigative reports about a school district's investigation into a high school teacher and coach for inappropriate behavior with a student. The station brought to light the fact that the same teacher had previously been arrested for telephone harassment, stalking and indecent exposure. The teacher sued the television station, and in the course of discovery further acts of inappropriate behavior with students and young women in the community were discovered. The station did a follow-up investigative series concerning the plaintiff's ability to move from school district to school district - despite repeated allegations of inappropriate behavior - with permission to resign and maintain his TEA teaching certificate. The station focused on the breakdown in the educational and criminal justice system in permitting an individual with this record to continue to have access to high school athletes and students. The plaintiff filed an amended complaint after the 2014 investigative series aired. Plaintiff requested in excess of $4 million in damages. We filed a motion for summary judgment on the claims arising out of the 2013 broadcasts (having inherited the case after the SLAPP deadline had expired) and an Anti-SLAPP motion on the claims arising out of the 2014 broadcasts. The plaintiff also filed a motion for summary judgment to preclude the defenses of substantial truth and privilege. The court granted our motion for summary judgment and Anti-SLAPP motion, denied plaintiff’s motion, and requested that the parties set a hearing on the recovery of costs and fees for the Anti-SLAPP Motion. The ruling is also significant because the federal court determined that the Texas Anti-SLAPP law is substantive and applies in federal court.

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