Texas Defamation Law Changes On The Way?

Texas defamation law
Texas defamation laws may be changing soon. If passed, the new proposal will make suing for slander and libel a little more difficult.

Soon, it may become difficult to sue for defamation in Texas. In addition to the Lone Star State’s anti-SLAPP statute – which aims to discourage questionable defamation lawsuits – legislators are considering a new proposal that would encourage defamation resolutions that don’t involve the court. The main impetus for the bill is lessening the number of slander and libel lawsuits currently cluttering benches across the state. By passing, legislators hope to give media outlets and would-be defamation plaintiffs a viable, equitable avenue to rectify defamation battles before they begin.

Administrative Basics of HB 1759 – Texas’ New Defamation Law Proposal

Todd Hunter – a Republican representative from Corpus Christi – is the primary sponsor of HB 1759. According to reports, the proposed law is meant to thwart costly and time consuming slander and libel lawsuits.

If passed, the new Texas defamation law would outline a process by which people would be forced to attempt an amicable resolution, with the offending entity, before filing for a court hearing.

How Defamation Would Work In Texas If HB 1759 Is Enacted

Texas House Bill 1759 outlines a simple process. It works like this:

Step One: If an individual or business comes across defamatory material about themselves or their business, he or she would send a letter to the publisher/distributor requesting that the material be removed, updated or retracted. The requester has 90 days from the moment of discovery to remit their request. If he or she does not submit their grievance within 90 days, the plaintiff risks forfeiting their right to seek punitive damages.

Step Two: Once the media outlet or slanderer receives the alteration or removal request, said outlet is allowed to request a written explanation of why a retraction, change or correction is needed.

Step Three: If the publisher or speaker agrees to make the requested retraction or correction, it must be done in the same manner as the original statement. For example, if the correction involves a story that ran on the front-page of a newspaper, the retraction must be on the front-page of a newspaper. If the statement was made on the 7 p.m. nightly news, the correction must also be made on the 7 p.m. nightly news.

If The Law Works As Intended, How Will It Change Defamation Litigation In Texas

As stated, the goal of the new Texas defamation statute is to clear the state’s current defamation lawsuit clog. As explained in several analyses, officials feel that once slander or libel litigation begins, both sides “dig in” and refuse to compromise – which only leads to belabored hearings that don’t end up doing much good for either side — which ultimately is a waste of tax payer funds. Legislators hope that a law which mandates seeking a non-legal rectification first, will diminish contentious, unnecessary defamation lawsuits.

Get In Touch With A Defamation Lawyer Licensed In Texas

Kelly Warner may have our office in Arizona, but we are licensed to practice in Texas, too. We’ve helped many individuals and online business owners who live in Texas – we can lend you a hand too. If you’re in need of a lawyer who focuses on slander and libel litigation, get in touch with Kelly Warner Law today.

Other Sources:

http://www.caller.com/news/2013/feb/26/defamation-law-proposed-in-texas-house/

http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/03/a-proposed-texas-law-would-promote-correcting-incorrect-news-online-and-off/

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