Hardin & Associates attorney secures Texas Supreme Court victory in Corpus Christi spa owner’s defamation defense
HOUSTON – The Texas Supreme Court has closed the books on a defamation case that received national attention, declining to review $300,000 in sanctions and legal fees against the inventor of a consumer health product that sought to muzzle online critics.
Karen Wallace, the owner of Journeyz Spa in Corpus Christi, was sued in 2017 for defamation after posting negative comments on social media about a consumer product known as the FasciaBlaster. Ms. Wallace wrote on a Facebook post that she experienced several unpleasant side effects, including loosened skin and weight gain, after using the FasciaBlaster, a popular massage tool that claims to reduce cellulite and improve joint and circulatory function.
Ms. Wallace’s attorney, Ryan Higgins with Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP, won at the trial court and successfully argued on appeal that her comments were a warning to the public and protected free speech under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, a law designed to protect free speech and public discourse by deterring so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation, also known as the anti-SLAPP law.
By declining to review an earlier appellate ruling, the action by the Texas Supreme Court upholds an award of roughly $300,000 in sanctions and attorneys’ fees secured by the Hardin team against ADB Interests LLC and Ashley Black, the inventors of the FasciaBlaster.
“The courts in this case have ruled repeatedly that Karen Wallace did nothing illegal or wrong, and this is further evidence of that,” said Mr. Higgins. “Free speech is one of the most important facets of American democracy, and companies don’t get to use the law to muzzle their critics. We’re proud to have helped our client successfully defend her business and her good name.”
The case is ADB Interest, LLC and Ashley Black v. Karen Wallace and D/B/A/ Journeyz Spa & Products, No. 01-18-00210 in the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas.