When the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) or Texas anti-SLAPP statute was signed into law in 2011, few realized how widely applicable it would be. Anyone involved in oil and gas litigation needs to understand how Texas courts have applied the anti-SLAPP statute in oilfield cases in order to reach the successful resolution of a claim.
Anti-SLAPP Laws In Texas
SLAPP refers to a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” that is designed to encourage and safeguard the constitutional rights of persons to petition and speak freely while also protecting the rights of a person to file meritorious lawsuits for demonstrable injury.The act provides a mechanism to dismiss legal actions that relate to free speech, the right of association, and the right to petition as well as recover the legal fees of the movant.Texas has adopted some of the strictest anti-SLAPP laws in the country and courts have applied the anti-SLAPP law in many different types of cases.
Anti- SLAPP Laws In Oilfield Cases
Quintanilla v. West involved a dispute over unpaid oilfield debts stemming from a contractual relationship between the parties. Quintanilla filed a UCC-1 Financial Statement with the Texas Secretary of State and a Memorandum regarding its All-Assets Security Agreement in the real property records of McMullen County, Texas. West sued alleging slander of title and fraudulent liens. Quintanilla filed a motion to dismiss Wests claims under the anti-SLAPP statute
A Texas court determined filing the financial records constituted free speech and that the financial records informed the public of the encumbrance on West’s mineral interests that were currently for sale. The court also determined the filing of financial documents fell under Quintanilla’s right to petition and remanded the case to the trial court to determine the attorneys fees and costs to be awarded to Quintanilla.
What Does This Means For The Oil And Gas Industry?
Oilfield disputes over unpaid debts can now become exceedingly more complex with the broad application of Anti-SLAPP laws. Anyone facing litigation will need experienced attorneys familiar with Anti-SLAPP laws and how they can be applied. Pursuing legal action without this important legal knowledge can make or break a claim.
Contact The Experienced Oil & Gas Lawyers At MehaffyWeber
At MehaffyWeber, our attorneys are experienced at handling all types of oilfield disputes and the nuanced legal statutes that apply to them. Contact our oil & gas lawyers today to schedule an appointment to see how we can help.