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Judge Delivers Rulings in Vic Mignogna's Funimation Lawsuit

On Friday, a Texas district court judge made a series of rulings in Dragon Ball Super: Broly voice actor Vic Mignogna's defamation lawsuit against the anime dubbing and distribution company, Funimation, along with two other voice actors (Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi) and the fiance of one of the actors (Ronald Toye, fiance of Rial) who made public statements regarding sexual harassment allegations against Mignogna.

Among the rulings by Judge John P. Chupp in Tarrant County District Court were: 1. to dismiss all claims against voice actor Jamie Marchi (who voices Marcarita in Dragon Ball Super; 2. to dismiss the claims against Funimation for tortious interference and civil conspiracy and 3. to dismiss the claims of tortious interference of existing contracts and tortious interference of business relations against voice actor Monica Rial and her fiance, Ron Toye.

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Funimation and the other three defendants filed their motions to dismiss in Texas as part of the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), which is a Texas state law designed to combat so-called "SLAPP" lawsuits. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. It refers to lawsuits designed specifically to silence critics of an individual or an organization by forcing the critics to go to court to defend their actions. The TCPA requires plaintiffs to pay legal fees and fines (large enough to deter the plaintiff from trying it again) when the court determines that they did, in fact, file the lawsuit in an attempt to silence a critic. The dismissal of the claims against Marchi likely means Mignogna will have to pay her legal costs and a fine.

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However, Chupp has not ruled on whether to dismiss the claims against Rial and Toye on defamation and civil conspiracy and the claims of defamation on the part of Funimation. Chupp, though, did rule that Mignogna qualified as a "limited purpose public figure." That is important because one of the defenses against defamation is if a person is considered a public figure, the only way they can maintain a claim of defamation is if the defending party (Funimation, Rial and Toye, in this instance) acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity of their claims, or had a reckless disregard for the truth of their claims. That is a difficult burden to prove and the judge's ruling that Mignogna did qualify as a public figure was a big blow to the voice actor (who was not present at the hearing on Friday).

The judge will issue a ruling on the outstanding claims in 30 days.

(Via Dallas Morning News).

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