MAIN v. ROYALL
CARLA T. MAIN AND THE ENCOUNTER FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION, INC., Appellants,
H. WALKER ROYALL, Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas.
Opinion Filed July 25, 2011.
Before Justices BRIDGES, RICHTER and LANG-MIERS.
Opinion By Justice LANG-MIERS.
This interlocutory appeal arises from a libel suit brought by appellee, H. Walker Royall, against appellants, Carla T. Main and The Encounter for Culture and Education, Inc. Appellants contend that the trial court erred when it denied their no-evidence motion for summary judgment and traditional motion for partial summary judgment. Royall contends that we do not have jurisdiction to entertain this interlocutory appeal. We affirm in part and reverse and render in part.Background
Main wrote and Encounter published Bulldozed: "Kelo," Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land, a book critical of the government's taking of private property by eminent domain to use for private development. It explores the history of eminent domain and court decisions about the government's use of the power, particularly the United States Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).1 Portions of the book are set in the City of Freeport, Texas and tell the story of the City's plan to use eminent domain to condemn waterfront property along the Old Brazos River to build a private yacht marina. The story is told from the viewpoint of one of the property owners-Western Seafood Company, a shrimp processing business owned by Wright "Pappy" Gore, Sr. and his family. It chronicles the Gore family's efforts over several years to prevent the City from condemning a 330-foot strip of property belonging to Western Seafood and used in their shrimp processing business. The Gores contended that this strip of property was crucial to the livelihood of Western Seafood. The book details the City's efforts to reach an agreement with the Gores and to build the marina on land adjacent to Western Seafood that was owned by the Blaffer family; its agreement with Royall, a commercial real estate developer,2 to develop and operate the marina; and the many lawsuits filed over the project.
Bulldozed was published in October 2007. When Royall learned of it, he sued appellants and others contending that the book and publicity for the book defamed and injured him in his occupation and profession. He alleged claims for libel, aiding and abetting libel, and ratifying libel, and he sought nominal, general, actual, and exemplary damages.