Update: HB 1759 became law on June 14, 2013.
It may become harder 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 retraction law proposal that also encourages defamation arbitration. The goal? Lessening the number of slander and libel lawsuits cluttering Texas courts.
Administrative Basics of HB 1759 – Texas’ New Defamation Law Proposal
Todd Hunter – a Republican representative from Corpus Christi – sponsored HB 1759, which aims to mitigate costly and time-consuming slander and libel lawsuits.
If passed, this new Texas defamation law would require mandatory arbitration periods before court hearings. Plus, it would introduce new rules regarding retractions.
What If: Texas Defamation Under HB 1759
Texas House Bill 1759 outlines a defamation resolution process.
Step One: If parties discover defamatory material about themselves, they would have 90 days to send letters to the publishers/distributors requesting removal, updates, or retractions. If a party doesn’t submit a grievance within 90 days, the plaintiff forfeits their right to seek punitive damages.
Step Two: Once the accused defamer or publisher receives the alteration or removal request, said outlet could seek an explanation (presumably so they can decide to hand over the information or not).
Step Three: Outlets must execute Corrections and retractions 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 broadcast on the 7 p.m. nightly news, the correction must also broadcast on the 7 p.m. nightly news.
If The Law Works As Intended, How Will It Change Texas Defamation Law?
The goal of the new Texas defamation statute is to unclog the state’s current defamation drain. When two parties jump into litigation, both sides typically “dig in” and refuse to compromise. The stubbornness leads to belabored, but fruitless, hearings that ultimately waste taxes. Legislators hope the new law will diminish contentious, unnecessary defamation lawsuits.
Get In Touch With A Defamation Lawyer Licensed In Texas
Kelly Warner is located in Arizona, but we’re also licensed to practice in Texas. If you’re in need of a lawyer who focuses on slander and libel litigation, get in touch with Kelly Warner Law today.