HOUSTON - The First Court of Appeals today affirmed a trial court
ruling denying attorney Tony’s Buzbee’s motion to dismiss a tortious
interference lawsuit brought by Terry & Thweatt.
According to the First Court’s opinion, the underlying dispute
arose after Jade James and her ex-husband, John Luengas, approached both
law firms seeking representation following the death of their
eighteen-year-old daughter, Alanna.
Alanna had worked at the Splendor Gentlemen's Club. On the night of
Alanna’s death, Splendor had allegedly provided her with alcohol and
allowed her to leave the premises in her vehicle even though she was
intoxicated. On her way home, Alanna was in a car accident. Her car was
then hit by another vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking,
court records state.
Court records show Buzbee and his firm moved to dismiss Terry &
Thweatt’s suit under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, but the
trial court denied the motion, which in turn prompted the appeal.
On appeal, Buzbee argued that the trial court erred by denying their motion to dismiss because:
- Terry & Thweatt’s claims do not fall within a statutory exemption to the TCPA;
- The TCPA applies to Terry & Thweatt’s claims because the
claims are based on or in response to the Buzbee parties’ exercise of
their right of free speech, right to associate, and right to petition;
- Terry & Thweatt did not present clear and specific evidence
demonstrating a prima facie case on each essential element of its
- The Buzbee parties presented evidence establishing two affirmative defenses as a matter of law.
“Because Terry & Thweatt established the applicability of an
exemption to the TCPA, we hold that the trial court did not err by
denying the Buzbee parties’ TCPA motion to dismiss,” the First Court’s
opinion states. “We affirm the order of the trial court.”
Appeal case No. 01-20-00659