Call To Curb Defamation Lawsuits

Texas – Texas lawmakers are considering curbs on defamation lawsuits.

Free-speech advocates testified in a state House committee Monday that limits on such lawsuits are needed to stop harassment of people who expose wrongdoing or criticize powerful companies or individuals. The legislation would allow defendants to get early dismissal of lawsuits intended to harass or deny the exercise of free speech. The defendants could also recover legal fees and court costs.

Shane Fitzgerald, vice-president and editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, said the bill was particularly important for small and medium-sized news outlets.

"We make people mad and they want to retaliate," he said. The legislation remains in the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.