Speech, Bulldozed

Defamation suit defeated

Dallas real estate developer H. Walker Royall didn’t care for the way he was portrayed in Carla Main’s 2007 book Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land. So in 2008 he filed a defamation suit against Main and her publisher, Encounter Books. In July a Texas appeals court unanimously ruled that the book and its criticism of eminent domain abuse, including all of the passages to which Royall objected, were protected by the First Amendment.

After the Dallas County District Court rejected Main’s First Amendment argument in November 2009, she asked the Court of Appeals for the 5th District of Texas to review that pretrial decision, as permitted by a state law aimed at protecting journalists. In its July ruling, the appeals court found that Royall did not raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding any of the grounds tied to the book. Dana Berliner, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm representing Main and Encounter, said “the appeals court has exposed the frivolity of Royall’s lawsuit, holding that Royall failed to prove that a single word of Bulldozed defames him.” 

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