Avila v. Larrea

In Avila v. Larrea, 394 S.W.3d 646 (Tex. App.--Dallas 2012, pet. denied), Larrea, a lawyer, sued Univision Television Group, Inc. and its reporter, Avila, for defamation based on reports concerning Larrea's former client's allegations regarding Larrea's work on the client's case. Id. at 658. The reporting included, among other things, the former client's wife's claim that Larrea did not visit the client in jail and did not utilize available conclusive evidence that would have caused the client's case to be dismissed. Id. Larrea also argued that the reporting "suggested" that he was responsible for his former client's "nightmare" experience, and misled viewers to believe that complaints forwarded to the State Bar of Texas confirmed professional misconduct. Id. The defendants moved to dismiss the case pursuant to the TCPA, and on appeal, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the subject of the reporting was Larrea's legal services, which was "a matter of public concern" because Larrea's services constituted a "service in the marketplace." Id. at 655; Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 27.001(3), (7)(E). Thus, the lawsuit was "based on, related to, or was in response to" the movants' exercise of the right to free speech, and was subject to the TCPA. Avila, 394 S.W.3d at 655; Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 27.005(b).