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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Appeals court affirms ruling in C&C Personnel dispute over emails

State Court

By Takesha Thomas | Jul 16, 2019

Justice
Court upholds trial court denial in C&C Personnel case | morguefile

BEAUMONT -- An appeals court has affirmed a trial court's ruling denying a former staffing company sales director's motion to dismiss a claim based on the Texas Citizens' Participation Act. 

Justice Charles Kreger, along with Justices Leanne Johnson and Steve McKeithen for the Texas Court of Appeals Ninth District upheld on July 11 the trial court's ruling denying Rosella Lee Callison's motion to dismiss in the matter against C&C Personnel, LLC and Dameron Joubert and David Stephenson. 

Callison alleges that based on the Texas Citizens' Participation Act (TCPA), she should be exempt and protected from "retaliatory lawsuits that seek to intimidate or silence them.” However, the justices argued, "While the TCPA applies, the communications at issue fall within the TCPA’s commercial speech exemption, and the trial court properly denied Callison’s motion to dismiss appellees’ trade secret claims."

Callison, on appeal, alleged that the TCPA applied because the burden of proof shifted when the defendants failed to "present clear and specific evidence establishing a prima facie case for each of its claims." Callison also denying that solicited business from specific former C&C customers. 

The appeals court found that although Callison met her initial burden, "establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the communications were in connection with a matter of public concern, she also established C&C’s claims "implicating her right of free speech thereby triggering the TCPA’s applicability."

According to court papers, Callison startd C& C Personnel in 2013 as a staffing servicer in the light industrial business sector, along with Ryan Conley. 

Conley, who handled recruiting, accounting, bookkeeping, taxes and payroll, "abruptly left the business, taking with him critical financial records, passwords to the company’s bank accounts, as well as key employees, the company CPA and chief recruiter." As a result, Callison had to sell the company for $35,000 to Dameron Joubert and David Stephenson, court records show. She was also hired on as director of sales for the company. 

Callison is alleged to have continued to have emails pertaining to potential clients sent to her personal email, a violation of company policy. 

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