Yetter Coleman achieved an anti-SLAPP appellate victory on behalf of our clients, four former volunteer board members of a condominium association. The lawsuit commenced when one disgruntled board member sued four former board members over their votes and decisions on how to resolve the window-rot problem. His lawsuit accused the four former volunteer board members of breaching their fiduciary duty.
Houston’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals held that Texas’s powerful anti-SLAPP statute—the Texas Citizens Participation Act—required this breach claim to be dismissed with respect to all live damage categories. The Court further held that the claim was moot with respect to the remaining damages that the plaintiff had tried to recover.
The ruling was an important one for not only our clients—volunteers who were serving their neighbors and making their best efforts to solve the condominium’s window-rot problem — but also for HOA volunteers across the state. The Court recognized that the former board members were exercising their “right of association” when they voted on various strategies to fix the condominium’s window-rot problem. The plaintiff triggered the TCPA’s sweeping protections by suing these former board members based on his disagreement with their votes. Consequently, the TCPA required the plaintiff’s claim to be dismissed unless the plaintiff produced evidence establishing a prima facie case supporting every element of his claim.
Examining the evidence, the Court concluded that the plaintiff had not made his prima facie case. Reversing in part, the Court ruled that the trial court erred by failing to grant our clients’ TCPA motion with respect to all live portions of the breach claim. Read the opinion here.
This case presents a strong example of the TCPA fulfilling its purpose: preventing disgruntled individuals from using meritless lawsuits to chill the right of civic participation. The victory means that the case will return to the trial court, where the TCPA guarantees our clients the right to recover their attorney fees and costs on the live portion of the breach claim.
April Farris argued the appeal in the Fourteenth Court, assisted by Jim Zucker. Beck Redden attorneys Alex Roberts, Daniel Hammond, and Amanda Taylor represented our clients in the trial court and on the briefing.