Last month, Funimation filed for a motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit that Dragon Ball Super: Broly voice actor Vic Mignogna filed in April against the anime dubbing and distribution company along with two other voice actors (Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi) and the fiancee of Rial, Ronald Toye, who all made public statements regarding sexual harassment allegations against Mignogna. In the case of Funimation, the suit cited the allegations as the studio's reason for terminating Mignogna as the voice of Broly in Dragon Ball Super. On Monday, the company also filed a supporting brief for its motion to dismiss.
Funimation filed the motion (and the new supporting brief) 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. SLAPP suits are not typically meant to be won, per se, but rather to keep critics busy with lawyers and court fees and also to intimidate any other critics from stepping forward, for fear that they will be sued as well. A number of states, such as Texas, have come up with specific laws to combat these types of lawsuits. Funimation is currently using the TCPA as part of its motion to dismiss Mignogna's suit, with the company claiming that Mignogna's suit is, in fact, a SLAPP lawsuit.
There are two major declarations in Funimation's brief that cut to the heart of the motion to dismiss. The first (and the same argument that the other three defendants - Rial, Toye and Marchi - are claiming in their own respective motions to dismiss) is that since Mignogna is a public figure, his defamation charge cannot stand. You see, when a person is considered a public figure, the only way they can maintain a charge of defamation is if the charged party (Funimation, 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. Since the claims of sexual harassment against Mignogna had been widespread before Funimation made any comments about the actor, it would be so hard for Mignogna to prove, that the court would likely simply dismiss the action.
Second, Funimation argues that there have been so many allegations of Mignogna that he is effectively "libel-proof." When someone is libel-proof, that means their reputation has been so tarnished that there is nothing that the respondent (Funimation) could have said about him that would have actually damaged his reputation.
The parties are due back in court in early August to take on Funimation's motion to dismiss.