On July 16, 2013, Porter Hedges LLP won a victory for its client, the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston, Inc. (Houston BBB) in a case before the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas. The appellate court dismissed all claims against the Houston BBB pursuant to the Texans Citizen Participation Act (TCPA), the state's Anti-SLAPP statute, which seeks to protect the exercise of the right of free speech.
"We are very pleased with the appellate court's decision, and particularly appreciate Porter Hedges; assistance in securing this favorable outcome," said Dan Parsons, President of the Houston BBB. "Porter Hedges has successfully represented us for many years, and we are glad to have the firm on our side to help protect our right to fulfill our mission of advancing trust in the marketplace."
The Houston BBB is a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage ethical business practices through voluntary self-regulation by businesses. The lawsuit involved a letter-grade business review published by the Houston BBB on its website as a service to the public to help consumers make informed decisions. The Houston BBB had filed a motion to dismiss the case under the TCPA, which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, Porter Hedges successfully argued that the Houston BBB's review constituted protected free speech and met the requirements for dismissal under the TCPA, and that the appellee failed to establish a prima facie case for its claims. The appellate court;s decision is only one of a handful to address and interpret the TCPA, particularly as it applies to published business reviews. The Houston BBB was represented by a Porter Hedges team led by Jeffrey R. Elkin and included Lauren Harris, Jonathan Pierce, Harris Stamey, and Jonna Summers.
The case is The Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston Inc. v. John Moore Services Inc. et. al., Case Number 01-12-00990-CV, in the First District Court of Appeals of the State of Texas.