Thursday, April 03, 2008

...With Baited Breath....6/11

It's back in the hands of the judge, again. Arguments have been made, answered, and now it's under consideration.

My contention is that it is a SLAPP suit, but Texas has no provisions against such suits. What is a SLAPP?

Generally, a "SLAPP" is a (1) civil complaint or counterclaim; (2) filed against individuals or organizations; (3) arising from their communications to government or speech on an issue of public interest or concern. SLAPPs are often brought by corporations, real estate developers, government officials and others against individuals and community groups who oppose them on issues of public concern. SLAPP filers frequently use lawsuits based on ordinary civil claims such as defamation, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, nuisance, interference with contract and/or economic advantage, as a means of transforming public debate into lawsuits.

Most SLAPPs are ultimately legally unsuccessful. While most SLAPPs lose in court, they "succeed" in the public arena. This is because defending a SLAPP, even when the legal defense is strong, requires a substantial investment of money, time, and resources. The resulting effect is a "chill" on public participation in, and open debate on, important public issues. This "chilling" effect is not limited to the SLAPP target(s): fearful of being the target of future litigation, others refrain from speaking on, or participating in, issues of public concern.
What is the harm in a SLAPP? Again, it curtails free speech, unless you have the money and time to fight it. While there should be an accountability factor, it shouldn't be dependent on one's bank account...and how much justice you can buy.


Anonymous said...

Attorneys on both sides file written argument

By Bill Hankins
The Paris News

Published April 1, 2008

Attorneys for Essent-Paris Regional Medical Center and a still unnamed blogger being sued by the hospital for defamation have filed written arguments following a March hearing in the case.

Verbal arguments in 62nd District Court were made March 12, but Judge Scott McDowell gave both sides 14 days to file the written arguments.

“The Texas Court of Appeals has left us with a standard to be applied in this case,” said attorney James Rodgers, acting on behalf of the unknown blogger. “PRMC has set forth additional factors, which it believes should be considered by this court. These factors were not part of the decision by the Court of Appeals, and, therefore, should not be considered by this court.”

Rodgers said the appeals court advised the lower court to view the matter as if “Doe 1” had filed a traditional motion for summary judgment, establishing a defense by alleging that his identity was protected from disclosure by virtue of First Amendment right of free speech.

“To obtain the requested discovery, the hospital would then be required to produce evidence, which would be sufficient to preclude the granting of summary judgment,” Rodgers said.

“Essent has in no way met this burden,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said plaintiff, as a private figure bringing suit against a media defendant, is required by law to bear the burden of showing falsity.

“Essent has shown no proof of falsity,” Rodgers said.

Attorney Wes Tidwell, acting on behalf of Essent, differed in his argument.

“Under Texas law, alleged defamatory statements are presumed to be false and the burden of proof is on the defendant to establish the statements are true,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell said Essent has presented “more than sufficient evidence to withstand a summary judgment motion.”

The lawsuit was filed June 19, 2007, by PRMC, which accused the blogger of wrongful conduct in publishing “false and misleading” information detrimental to the hospital.

Since that time, the hospital and its attorneys have sought the release of the identity of the blogger and other bloggers named as “Does” in the lawsuit.

Both sides now await a court ruling on the written arguments.

Anonymous said...

Anything yet? I haven't heard a peep out of either the electronic or print media.

Anonymous said...

And the waiting continues........

What will happen should the judge rule against you? Do you appeal? I hope so- the schoolyard bully that is Essent needs to be slapped down.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Essent will fail before this lawsuit reaches its end?

After all, a reasonable person may conclude, given their fiscal performance, and noting who is working the numbers at some of Essent's facilities ...

... that this house of cards (52 jokers?) may be due to implode from within anytime now.

Just who convinced these venture capital guys to invest big dollars in ............................ oh yeah, he's no longer with Essent.

Telling, no?

Anonymous said...

Since most of the posters here are "anonymous", and range in a large area, how is it Essent and the stooge (McDowell) can get us all for allegedly saying negative things (speaking the truth) about their tactics and operations? Hasn't Essent done enough damage on its own by its own actions? How do you decorate bovine feces to make it look presentable to the public? In the end, you just have well-decorated bovine feces.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see whether McDowell has accepted any bribes, er contributions, from a PAC that represents the hospital group. So far, the Texas Ethics Commission reports do not show that he has, but he is really favoring the hospitals for some reason or another. Regardless, McDowell does not get a pass on this issue. I don't live up there anymore, but Scotty Mac has an opponent in November. It is up to the people of that district to make a statement on this guy's performance.

Anonymous said...

Any news yet? Or is the ozone cloud that is emanating from the judge's brain still hanging over the courthouse, as he ponders this decision.......

Watch it come down to a coin flip: heads, guilty; tails, innocent.....

......and Essent provides a two-headed coin.