Court-ordered mediation is set to begin in an effort to settle a lawsuit between Texas’ largest anti-abortion group and a former Texas state senator. The lawsuit came following a radio add pulled during a contentious Republican runoff election.
The lawsuit was filed by Texas Right to Life against Senator Bob Deuell in 2014 and claimed the Greenville Republican illegally interfered with contracts for a one minute radio spot that was critical of the senator’s work concerning end-of-life legislation. The anti-abortion group purchased airtime on some Dallas area radio stations for an ad alleging Deuell turned his back on disabled patients.
Deuell claimed the ad was false and defamatory, and filed a cease-and-desist letter with the stations requesting they stop running the ad. In response, Texas Right to Life bought more air time on the same stations and started running a second ad that stated Deuell was attempting to silence the group because they were publicizing his voter record. It claimed the ad was an attempt to educate voters about measures Deuel was taking to regulate end-of-life care. The group later filed a lawsuit against Deuel for “tortious interference” with a contract.
In its suit, Texas Right to Life is seeking damages of more than $50,000 for the cost of the ad and airtime. The group is also requesting a public apology from Deuell and claims that apology is one of the critical elements of settlement.
Deuell requested the lawsuit be dismissed, but a Harris County judge rejected his request. The radio ad was also the recipient of an ethics complaint against Texas Right to Life that was later dismissed.