Filing a Texas Defamation Action? Don’t Forget to Ask Nicely First…

Filing a Texas Defamation Action? Don't Forget to Ask Nicely First...

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With libel law in the news these days, O’Connor’s is here to help you get your defamation action off on the right foot. If you are seeking exemplary damages, your first step has to be sending a letter to the other side asking them to correct, clarify, or retract the defamatory statement.

To recover exemplary damages for a defamatory statement made on or after June 14, 2013, the plaintiff must request a correction, clarification, or retraction of the defendant’s defamatory statement within 90 days after learning about its publication.[1] If a request is made, the plaintiff can recover exemplary damages only if (1) the defendant does not publish a correction, clarification, or retraction or (2) the defendant does publish a correction, clarification, or retraction but the defamatory statement was made with actual malice.[2]

This requirement came into Texas law in 2013 as part of the Defamation Mitigation Act (DMA).[3] The DMA encourages publishers of defamatory material to voluntarily come forward to correct, clarify, or retract that material. If a voluntary correction is made and meets the standards set by the DMA, the publisher can mitigate its actual damages and prevent the plaintiff from recovering any exemplary damages if the publication was not made with actual malice.[4] The DMA also encourages plaintiffs to resolve claims quickly by requiring them to request a correction, clarification, or retraction from the defendant (if one has not already been made) or else face the possibility of losing the right to maintain the suit and recover exemplary damages.[5] The DMA applies to both libel and slander claims based on harm to personal reputation in which the allegedly defamatory statement was published on or after June 14, 2013.[6]

What does your DMA request letter need to say? How should it be worded? We’ve got you covered with a new letter template that’s included in O’Connor’s Texas Causes of Action Pleadings 2017.

For your next defamation action, turn to O’Connor’s Texas Causes of Action Pleadings 2017  for up-to-date, well-researched form letters and pleadings. O’Connor’s Texas Causes of Action Pleadings 2017  is now in stock—visit our online store to order your copy!


[1] Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §73.055(c).

[2] See id. §73.059 (if correction, clarification, or retraction made, exemplary damages not recoverable unless D published statement with actual malice).

[3] Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., ch. 950, §2, eff. June 14, 2013.

[4] See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§73.003(a)(3), 73.059, 73.061(b).

[5] Id. §73.055(a), (c).

[6] See id. §73.054; Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., ch. 950, §§3, 4, eff. June 14, 2013.

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