After a long and bitter legal battle that sent shockwaves through the entire Western anime industry, popular voice actor Vic Miniongna has officially lost a defamation lawsuit against his co-workers at Funimation, with a Texas court rejecting his appeal and upholding initial rulings. and the penalties imposed against him at the end of the first instance case.
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Mignognas’ appeal was first lodged with officials in Tarrant County, Texas in October 2019 just days after his initial complaints against fellow Western voice actors Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi on the grounds that the latter had been “shown by the preponderance of evidence that communications regarding grounds for action related to to plaintiffs relating to public concerns, and that communications include allegations of plaintiff’s conduct in relation to health and safety, the environment, economic well-being, or society.”
Specifically, the voice actor objected to what he believed to be a “trial court [having] incorrectly dismissed his claims” and, as noted in the last judgment, argued that “the trial court erred in finding that the appellate evidence was legally and factually sufficient to meet the burden of the TCPA’s first step on the grounds of inadmissibility of the evidence; rejecting his claims; by refusing consideration of his second amended petition; By ordering him to pay the penalties and attorney’s fees.”
Released in 2011, the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) provides protection for “the constitutional rights of persons to petition, to speak freely, to associate freely, and to participate in government to the fullest extent permitted by law, while at the same time protecting the rights of a person to bring meritorious lawsuits for demonstrable injury.”
“If the legal proceeding is based on a party’s exercise of a right to freedom of expression, a right of petition or a right of association, or is in response to that party’s exercise of its right to free expression, or arises from any act by that party to further a party’s communication or conduct.” , The official statute of the state clarifies as well.
Real, Marchi, Tui, and Funimation later succeeded in arguing that, according to the TCPA, their public accusations of sexual misconduct against Mignogna fell under the banner of protected speech as it pertained to a “matter of public interest”, leading to the above dismissal of the representative’s initial lawsuit. vocal.
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Although developments in the case have been relatively muted in the years since, on April 18, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Texas District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth finally pass judgment Regarding Mignogna’s appeal request.
However, it’s possible that he wasn’t the person the voice actor was hoping for, like 2nd District Court of Appeals Judge Mike Wallach. finally found that the defendants “have satisfied their initial TCPA burden, in part because Mignogna failed to maintain his complaints on their evidence, which the lower court considered along with Mignogna’s allegations in his first amended petition.”
“Because Mignogna withdrew the principal evidence supporting his apparent burden prior to the hearing on the Appellees’ TCPA proposals, he was unable to meet his TCPA’s burden on any of the Appellees’ claims,” Judge Wallach explained. “Accordingly, the Court of First Instance did not err in granting the TCPA requests by the Appellees, by imposing sanctions on Mignogna, or by awarding attorneys’ fees to the Appellees, and we confirm this part of the judgment of the Court of First Instance.”
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However, there was one provision that the court found needed to be reconsidered, and that was the amount of attorney’s fees that Real and Tui were legally entitled to recover from Miniona.
Initially only ordered the court to pay a flat fee of $100,000, after reviewing the couple’s counter-appeal, the court found that “the lower court’s order on attorneys’ fees conflicts with the great weight and preponderance of the evidence, we reverse that part of the lower court ruling and return the case to the lower court.” on this matter.”
Judge Wallach wrote: “The record shows that in his original petition, Mignogna sought ‘more than $1,000,000.00’ and that in his first amended petition, he changed the amount to ‘more than $1,000,000.00 but not exceeding $5,’ $,000,000.00,” Judge Wallach wrote. “As shown above in our TCPA analysis, Mignogna made more serious allegations against Rial and Toye, who were ousted, than Marchi and Funimation, who were not impeached.”
“Although each party faced a $5 million lawsuit, Mignogna’s case against Rial and Toye was more complex and therefore required more work to defend against,” he concluded. “Legal services are not interchangeable, and Mignogna’s case against every defendant was not quite the same, and the Court of First Instance had to properly account for each lodge provider with that in mind.”
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Following the court ruling, Marchi and Rial took to Twitter to celebrate the ruling.
“#stillwinning” Marchi wrote on August 19th.
Real retweeted it, and added her own hashtag, with the note “#itsover”.
While weighing the verdict in the hours immediately after its release, attorney Nick Rikita said: “Let’s be clear about something: They have completely denigrated Vic Minyogna.”
“And this case has not been heard in terms of its merits,” he added. “Now of course it never will be.”
As of this writing, Mignogna’s hearing on re-setting the amount of attorney’s fees he should pay to the defendants has not received a confirmed date.
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