Former Dragon Ball franchise and RWBY voice actor Vic Mignogna has made his first filing in his appeals process, delivering an Appellant’s Brief to the Court of Appeals arguing that “the trial court committed reversible error under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.1 by dismissing Vic’s claims, refusing to consider Vic’s second amended petition, failing to strike the objectionable evidence and finding (based on inadmissible evidence) that Appellees presented legally and factually sufficient evidence to satisfy their burden under the TCPA, and ordering Vic to pay Appellees’ legal fees and sanctions.”

In the brief, filed by Ty Beard, Jim E. Bullock, and Carey-Elise Christie of BEARD HARRIS BULLOCK CHRISTIE and Michael Martinez, An Lee Hsu, and Ryan Sellers of Martinez Hsu, P.C., Mignogna’s legal team begins by laying out a “Statement of Facts” of the case, recapping the case as it has occurred thus far.

Within this statement, Mignogna lays out a concise series of events, it includes references to the intimidation of Kameha Con owner Christopher Slatosch:

“Though Funimation had not yet informed Vic of the investigation, Monica’s fiancé—Appellee Ronald Toye (“Ronald”)—began telephoning and texting Christopher Slatosch, host of the Kameha Con convention, on January 22, 2019 that Funimation’s parent company, Sony, was conducting an investigation into Vic’s assaulting four women and that criminal charges would soon be filed against Vic. Monica told Slatosch that Vic was a “sexual predator” and that criminal charges would soon be filed against him. Both urged him to cancel Vic’s invitation to Kameha Con—despite Slatosch’s objection that doing so would breach his contract with Vic—and to refuse doing business with Vic in the future; otherwise, Ronald’s company would withdraw its financial sponsorship of the convention, and Monica would cancel her appearance and convince other voice actors to cancel their appearances. Slatosch complied.”

The statement also explains the Funimation investigation, led by Executive Director of Employee Relations for Sony Tammy Denbow, which appeared to be less than “confidential” as she corresponded with fellow Dragon Ball voice actress Monica Rial:

“The next day (January 25, 2019), Tammy Denbow, Executive Director of Employee Relations for Sony, informed Vic of Monica’s allegations (none of which involved abuse, assault or harassment); Vic explained that the Monica-jellybean exchange was friendly banter “many years ago” and that the kiss with his co-worker was consensual and occurred after a year of exchanging correspondence. Though Ms. Denbow admonished Vic that Sony’s investigation was “confidential,” she and co-worker Lisa Gibson gave Monica updates; Ms. Denbow “talk[ed] it through” with her, and Ms. Gibson encouraged her to “hang in there.””

It also showcases the continuous storm of Tweets made against Mignogna by Rial’s fiancé, Ron Toye:

“On February 5, 2019, Ronald called on Funimation to make a statement about Vic and for him to “be banned indefinitely,” again, calling Vic “a predator.” Over the next 24 hours, Florida Supercon, Raleigh Supercon, Kamicon, and Hudson Valley Comicon all cancelled Vic’s appearances.

On February 6, Ronald tweeted that Vic “assaulted my fiancée,” implied that Vic was a “rapist,” and called Vic “a predator” “accused of over 100 accounts of assault,” and proclaimed that he wanted Vic “blacklisted and out of work.” Later that day, Jamie announced that “name and shame” was faster than legal redress.

In a February 7, 2019 email to Funimation’s Trina Simon, Monica accused Vic of assaulting her in 2007.  Ronald immediately took to the Twittersphere to proclaim, on February 8, 2019, that “Vic assaulted Monica” and “other actors,” “sexually assaulted Monica, her friends, and countless fans” and again called Vic a “predator.””

The brief then argues that Mignogna had established “a prima facie case,” or presented enough evidence for his claims, “against all Appellees” and that the “trial court’s October 4, 2019 order and its Final Judgment must be reversed and vacated and this case remanded back to the trial court for trial.”

“The trial court committed reversible error by dismissing Vic’s claims for defamation, tortious interference with existing contracts, and tortious interference with prospective business relations, because Vic presented clear and specific evidence of a prima facie case against all Appellees.  The trial court’s dismissing Vic’s claim against Funimation for vicarious liability, likewise, constituted reversible error, because he presented clear and specific evidence of a prima facie case that Funimation is vicariously liable for Jamie’s and Monica’s actions.  And the trial court’s dismissing Vic’s claim of civil conspiracy is reversible error, because (a) his conspiracy claim is not subject to the TCPA and (b) he, nonetheless, presented clear and specific evidence of a prima facie case against all Appellees.

Moreover, the trial court was required to consider Vic’s second amended petition, and its failure to do so is reversible error.  Additionally, the trial court’s finding that Appellees satisfied their burden under the TCPA is not supported by the legally or factually sufficient evidence, because the trial court considered inadmissible evidence over Vic’s objections which is reversible error.  Finally, the trial court’s ordering Vic to pay Appellees’ legal fees and sanctions is reversible error.

The trial court’s October 4, 2019 order and its Final Judgment must be reversed and vacated and this case remanded back to the trial court for trial.”

After presenting a further timeline of evidence to support Mignogna’s prima facie cases, the brief claims that the “Appellees did not satisfy their evidentiary burden, because the trial court should have struck the evidence attached to their motions to dismiss” with dissections of various filings such as Karen Mika’s affidavit, Monica & Ronald’s Motion to Dismiss Evidence, and the affidavit of Michelle Specht. Many of these filings are called into question as “out-of-court statements made by someone other than the person testifying which were offered to prove the truth of the matters asserted, which is inadmissible hearsay” or “constitute inadmissible opinion testimony.”

The brief ends with a claim that “the trial court committed reversible error under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.1” and states that Mignogna hopes the court will “remand this matter back to the trial court for trial”:

“Appellees, in a concerted conspiracy to destroy Vic, published defamatory texts, tweets and email about him, knowingly interfered in his existing and prospective appearances at fan conventions, and he suffered monetary damages due to Appellees’ conduct—in addition to the damage to his reputation.  When called to account for their tortious conduct, they sought protection behind the TCPA using inadmissible evidence which the trial court improperly admitted over Vic’s objections.  However, Vic made a prima facie showing, by clear and specific evidence, of each claim he brought against them, in both his response to their motions and in his second amended petition which the trial court was required to consider but wrongly disregarded.

In short, the trial court committed reversible error under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.1 by dismissing Vic’s claims, refusing to consider Vic’s second amended petition, failing to strike the objectionable evidence and finding (based on inadmissible evidence) that Appellees presented legally and factually sufficient evidence to satisfy their burden under the TCPA, and ordering Vic to pay Appellees’ legal fees and sanctions.

Vic prays that this Court will reverse and vacate the trial court’s October 4, 2019 order and its Final Judgment, remand this matter back to the trial court for trial, and grant him such other and further relief this Court deems equitable or just.”

 

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