Over the past several months, I’ve been tracking the explosion of cases where a defendant uses Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) as a defense to a misappropriation of trade secrets claim under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA).  The Beaumont Court of Appeals case in Callison v. C&C Pers., LLC, No. 09-19-00014-CV, 2019 WL 3022548(Tex. App.–Beaumont July 11, 2019, no pet. h.) is another one of those cases.  Callison involves the familiar fact pattern of an employee accused of acquiring her former employee’s trade secrets and then using those trade secrets to solicit her former customers.  In defense to those claims, the employee filed a motion to dismiss under the TCPA.  The trial court denied employee’s motion by operation of law.  The Beaumont Court of Appeals affirmed.
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In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how the Fort Worth Court of Appeals restricted the scope of Texas’s anti-SLAAP statute the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) by determining that the “common interest” in the definition of “right of association” under the TCPA requires interests that are “shared by the public or at least a group.”  This is a holding that arguably conflicts with other courts of appeals that have held that the “right of association” is implicated in situations where alleged tortfeasors are working together to further a competing business or other interest “common” to the tortfeasors.
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If you have been following my blog, you know that Texas’s anti-slapp statute—the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA)—frequently applies to commercial litigation claims. McDonald Oilfield Operations, LLC v. 3B Inspection, LLC, No. 01-18-00118-CV, 2018 WL 6377432 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 6, 2018, no pet. h.) is another example of the use of the TCPA as a defense to a commercial litigation suit. In McDonald Oilfield Operations, plaintiff 3B Inspection brought claims a defamation, business disparagement, and tortious interference with contract after defendant McDonald Oilfield Operations, a competitor in the pipeline monitoring business, allegedly told one of 3B’s customers that 3B was “not a real company” and that McDonald Oilfield had suspended some 3B’s employees’ qualifications. (Three of 3B’s employees had worked for McDonald Oilfield as independent contractors and had received their credentials through McDonald Oilfield. McDonald Oilfield asserted claims that these employees had misappropriated trade secrets and stolen company property.)
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