Fort Bend Man Scores Appellate Win in Libel Case Against Newspaper, Reporter
November 20, 2013
HOUSTON – A Texas appeals court has affirmed the bulk of a jury verdict totaling nearly $1.1 million after jurors found that a newspaper and reporter libeled the son of a former Fort Bend County chief deputy sheriff.
“It’s highly unusual for a newspaper to lose a libel verdict on appeal. We are happy to see our client prevail,” says Houston attorney John Zavitsanos of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing PC, or AZA, who tried the case with fellow partner Todd Mensing. The successful appellate arguments were handled by AZA’s Megan Bibb.
The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas in October affirmed the jury verdict for Wade Brady, the son of Craig Brady, a former sheriff’s department chief deputy. The lawsuit was filed against The West Fort Bend Star and reporter LeaAnne Klentzman, a former sheriff’s deputy herself. The jury found the 2003 article made false allegations about Wade Brady and falsely claimed his father covered for him when he was charged with a crime.
The appeals court struck down eight of the nine points of appeal raised by the defendants, noting that the article gave a false impression and omitted key facts, including that Wade Brady was acquitted of the criminal accusation. The court eliminated only $20,000 in mental anguish damages before sending the case back to the trial court to reevaluate the exemplary damages in light of the slightly diminished compensatory damages.
This jury verdict was the state’s second largest intentional tort verdict in 2011, a year AZA won three of the top Texas verdicts. The appellate case is LeaAnne Klentzman and Carter Publications, Inc. d/b/a The West Fort Bend Star v. Wade Brady, No. 01-11-00765-CV.
AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, securities fraud, construction and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms in the 2014 listing of the nation’s leading law firms. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000. AZA has been hired on many occasions by the same companies the firm has prevailed against at trial. Read more at https://azalaw.com.