Beck Redden Prevails in Appeal About the Scope of the Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute

  • April 19, 2018

Beck Redden secured an appellate victory on March 16, 2018, when the Supreme Court denied review of a unanimous decision from Houston’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals (QTAT BPO Solutions, Inc. v. Lee & Murphy Law Firm, G.P.) in favor of the Firm’s client, Clark Love & Hutson GP, and its co-defendant Lee & Murphy Law Firm, GP.  The case involved a determination about the scope of the Texas Citizens Participation Act, an “Anti-SLAPP” statute enacted in 2011, which provides for dismissal of claims based on the exercise of certain rights.

The interlocutory appeal arose when the trial team successfully defended against a dismissal motion under the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute. 

On appeal, the question presented was whether the law firms’ service provider exercised its “right to petition,” defined as making a “communication. . . in or pertaining to judicial proceeding,” when it disclosed confidential information to its attorney before filing a lawsuit.  In a published opinion authored by Chief Justice Frost, a unanimous panel of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals sided with the law firms and held that the service provider’s pre-suit communication to its attorney was not “made in or pertaining to a judicial proceeding.” 

The service provider sought review in the Supreme Court.  Following full briefing on the merits, the Supreme Court denied the petition and cemented the appellate victory for the Firm’s client and its co-defendant.  

Beck Redden partner Connie Pfeiffer served as lead appellate counsel, with the assistance of appellate associate Kyle Lawrence.  In addition, the Beck Redden team included partner Alistair Dawson and associate Owen McGovern.  Co-counsel on the case was Jim M. Perdue, Jr., of Perdue & Kidd.  Counsel for the Lee & Murphy Law Firm were John H. Kim and David A. McDougald, of the Kim Law Firm.