Lawyer who claimed his paralegal likely tried to poison him may proceed with suit, Texas court rules

The ABA..

A paralegal accused in a lawsuit of falsely claiming that her lawyer boss was depressed to cover up his alleged poisoning can’t get his libel claims dismissed, a Texas appeals court has ruled.

The Texas Court of Appeals’ Third District in Austin, Texas, ruled for Arturo Guzman in a Feb. 10 opinion, report Law360 and Bloomberg Law.

Guzman’s lawsuit had alleged that the paralegal stole from his law practice, failed to respond to a client complaint and failed to file documents with ethics regulators, which led to his disbarment.

In an amended lawsuit against the paralegal, Guzman had alleged assault and battery, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, common law fraud and conversion, and breach of contract.

The paralegal, Ashley Szymonek, filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that she was protected by the Texas Citizens Participation Act. The law allows early dismissal of lawsuits against defendants speaking out on matters of public concern.

The trial judge refused to dismiss the suit. Szymonek appealed the judge’s refusal to dismiss claims of libel, slander and invasion of privacy.

The appeals court ruled that the law doesn’t protect Szymonek because her alleged lies didn’t implicate matters of public concern.

The appeals court described Guzman’s allegations.

Guzman alleged that Szymonek had told people that he was depressed to lay the groundwork for people to think that he died by suicide when she likely attempted to poison him with antifreeze in April 2020.

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