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Anti-SLAPP cases to watch

April 7, 2012

We frequently get contacted by victims of SLAPP suits telling us about their pending cases. For the most part, I have only posted details on cases after there is a favorable anti-SLAPP ruling by the court, but there are a couple of cases worth watching:

Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield, MB., BS., FRCS, v. The British Medical Journal, a d/b/a of BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., also d/b/a BMJ Group, and BMJ, Brian Deer, Individually, and Dr. Fiona Godlee, Individually, Cause No. D-1-GN-12-000003, 250th Judicial District, Travis County, Texas).

What appears to be the third lawsuit filed in Austin in 2012 is also one of the most high-profile anti-SLAPP cases to hit Texas yet. Andrew Wakefield is a doctor from the U.K. who published a paper theorizing that vaccines caused autism. This led to widespread panic among parents and the defendant, Brian Deer, wrote a series of articles in the British Medical Journal, calling Wakefields study into question. Wakefield’s study was retracted by the original journal that published it, the Lancet. Wakefield sued Deer in Austin, Texas for defamation, and Deer, in addition to filing a special appearance challenging jurisdiction, has filed an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss. Because of the drama surrounding the debate over vaccine safety (some supporters of Wakefield apparently see this as a re-test of the validity of the study) Wakefield’s fall from grace and Deer’s expose, there is a good deal of attention swirling around this lawsuit and the anti-SLAPP law.

Wallbuilder Presentations, Inc. through its President, David Barton and Wallbuilders, L.L.C. through its President, David Barton and David Barton, individually v. W.S. Smith and Judy A. Jennings and Rebecca E. Bell-Metereau, Cause No. CV-11-1349 (415th Judicial District, Parker County, Tex., filed Nov. 7, 2011)

In this case, David Barton, a former Vice Chairman of the Texas Republican Party,  filed defamation suits against Jennings and Bell-Metereau, former candidates for the State Board of Education, and writer for Examiner.com W.S. Smith. The lawsuit against Jennings and Bell-Metereau reportedly is based on a campaign video, and the Smith claim is reportedly based on an article he wrote. The defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion but it was denied without explanation by a Parker County judge. An appeal is currently pending in the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. This case is of special interest because it could lead to the first appellate ruling interpreting the law- which will be important to all future anti-SLAPP cases.

If you are aware of an anti-SLAPP case that we should be following, please email me: alicia@calzadalegal.com

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. ottoschnaut permalink
    April 8, 2012 2:35 pm

    What paper did Wakefield publish theorizing a link between vaccines and autism? Didn’t the retracted paper explicitly state that it offered no proof of a link between vaccines and autism?

    And… didn’t Deer actually accuse Wakefield fraud?

  2. Patricia permalink
    April 11, 2012 7:18 am

    Correct Ottoschnaut. Wakefield NEVER stated anywhere that vaccines caused Autism. The media did that. What the paper said was that some children developed bowel disease from the MMR.

  3. Bob the builder permalink
    April 11, 2012 12:21 pm

    Why argue. You can read all about it here, with a link to the paper:

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-summary.htm

    • Patricia permalink
      April 12, 2012 4:01 am

      If you are a Brian Deer disciple Bob the Builder then indeed there is no argument! Brian Deer is about your level of understanding so good onya Bob.

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