ON-Lion Letter
In an important victory for the First Amendment, a Texas state appeals court in July handed a major defeat to Dallas developer H. Walker Royall in his defamation lawsuit against the author and publisher of Bulldozed:  "Kelo," Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land.  In November 2009, a Dallas trial court issued a blanket denial of Carla Main's and Encounter Books' claims that the book is protected by the First Amendment, prompting the appeal.

The Dallas appeals court unanimously reversed the trial court's judgment and held that Royall failed to produce evidence that anything in Bulldozed defames him in any way.  The opinion reaffirms that criticism of public projects is protected by the First Amendment, and that developers who are involved in those projects cannot hide behind defamation law to escape criticism over their role.
"Walker Royall has failed in his attempt to use this frivolous defamation lawsuit as a weapon to silence his critics," said Dana Berliner, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice (IJ), which defended Main and Encounter.  "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."

Published in 2007, Bulldozed chronicles events in Freeport, Tex., where Royall signed a development agreement to have the city take land owned by Western Seafood -- a generations-old shrimping business -- and give that land to Royall's development company for a luxury-yacht marina.  Royall sued Main and Encounter in October 2008, seeking monetary damages and a permanent prohibition on further printing or distribution of the book.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as is IJ.
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