TCPA nerds were watching USA Lending Group, Inc. v. Winstead PC to see how the Court would handle the application of the TCPA to malpractice claims based on actions taken inside of litigation.
SCOTX sidestepped that issue and assumed that the TCPA did apply, but reversed the Houston COA because the expert testimony on causation/damages/collectability met the prima facie test. And the Court seemed to send a clear signal that the prima facie standard is not a hard test to meet, bookending the Opinion like this:
The prima facie case is the measurement the Legislature selected to distinguish genuine claims from suits brought to harass or silence. It is not a high hurdle. Rather, it is that minimum quantity of evidence necessary to rationally infer that an allegation is true.
. . .
The motion to dismiss stage is not a battle of evidence; it is the clearing of an initial hurdle.The Act does not select for plaintiffs certain to succeed; it screens out plaintiffs certain to fail—those who cannot support their claims with clear and specific evidence. Because USA Lending adduced prima facie evidence to support its claim for legal malpractice, the court of appeals erred in ordering the case dismissed. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the case to the trial court.
My guess is that SCOTX wrote to give more guidance to the lower courts on how low the “hurdle” bar really is (depending upon the quality of evidence presented to the trial court).