Judge John P. Chupp dismissed all of voice actor Vic Mignogna’s case against voice actress Jamie Marchi in Tarrant County District Court on Friday. The judge also dismissed the tortious interference of existing contracts and tortious interference of business relations allegations against voice actress Monica Rial and Rial’s fiance Ron Toye. Mignogna’s allegations that anime licensing company Funimation participated in tortious interference and civil conspiracy were also dismissed.
Judge Chupp will review Mignogna’s case on defamation and civil conspiracy against Rial and Toye and defamation on the part of Funimation and issue a ruling in 30 days.
Friday’s hearing was set to respond to the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case based on the defense’s argument that the suit violated the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), the state’s measure to protect against SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuits. When a defendant successfully invokes the TCPA during a lawsuit, the plaintiff must pay court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses resulting from defending against the lawsuit. The court must also issue a fine to the plaintiff that is “sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions…”
The defendant’s motions argued that Mignogna is a public figure, and he cannot provide clear and specific evidence for his claims of defamation, tortious interference, and conspiracy. Judge Chupp ruled in court on Friday that Mignogna qualified as limited purpose public figure. In addition, Rial and Toye’s motion argued that they have qualified privilege (based on their right to involvement in Funimation’s own investigation, and their assertion that their statements are true), and that Mignogna is libel proof (arguing that rumors of Mignogna’s alleged conduct have followed him for years).
The result of Friday’s court case will leave Mignogna responsible for all of Marchi’s court costs and attorney’s fees, partially responsible for Rial, Toye, and Funimation’s court costs and attorney’s fees, and subject to a fine decided by the court.
The defense’s counsel attempted to discuss their allegations that Beard and co-counsel Jim E. Bullock committed illegal conduct under suspicion that affidavits initially filed on August 31, which were notarized by Beard himself, were falsified. Judge Chupp decided to hear the allegations at a future hearing.
Mignogna was issued a court order to appear on Friday, but he was not present. His counsel Ty Beard filed a motion to quash the subpoena and motion for protective order on Thursday, allowing Mignogna to not comply with the subpoena until the judge rules on the order.
Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes and An Lee Hsu of the Martinez Hsu law firm. Marchi is represented by Sam Johnson of Johnson Sparks. Rial and Toye are represented by J. Sean Lemoine and Ethan Minshull of Wick Phillips, Casey S. Erick of Cowles & Thompson, and Andrea Perez of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal. Funimation is represented by John Volney of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst.
article appears courtesy of animenewsnetwork.com – Lynzee Loveridge