Monica Rial, Ronald Toye, Jamie Marchi Also File Motions to Dismiss Vic Mignogna's Lawsuit
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Voice actress Monica Rial, her fiancé Ronald Toye, and voice actress Jamie Marchi all filed an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion to dismiss voice actor Vic Mignogna's lawsuit against them on Friday. Rial and Toye jointly filed one motion, and Marchi filed a separate motion. As with Funimation's similar motion to dismiss earlier this month, these motions cite the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) in claiming that Mignogna's lawsuit is an impediment against the defendants' freedom of speech in commenting on a matter of public concern.
The two motions to dismiss halt all discovery in the lawsuit until the Tarrant County, Texas court has ruled on the motion. The court must set a hearing within 30 days of the motions' filing.
Both motions argue that Mignogna is a public figure, and he cannot provide clear and specific evidence for his claims of defamation, tortious interference, and conspiracy. In addition, Rial and Toye's motion argues that they have qualified privilege (based on their right to involvement in Funimation's own investigation, and their assertion that their statements are true), and that Mignogna is libel proof (arguing that rumors of Mignogna's alleged conduct have followed him for years).
Rial and Toye are represented by J. Sean Lemoine of Wick Phillips Gould & Martin, Casey S. Erick of Cowles & Thompson, and Andrea Perez of Kesler Collins, all in Dallas, Texas. Marchi is represented by Samuel H. Johnson of Johnson & Sparks.
Mignogna filed the lawsuit against Funimation, Rial, Toye, and Marchi on April 18. In the lawsuit, Mignogna claims defamation, interference in existing contracts and prospective business relations, and civil conspiracy over the defendants' Twitter posts and Funimation's investigation against Mignogna for alleged sexual harassment.
Mignogna is seeking "monetary relief over $1,000,000.00" in part due to Funimation no longer contracting him for future productions, as well as conventions canceling his appearances. Mignogna and his lawyer are also seeking "judgment against the Defendants for actual, consequential and punitive damages according to the claims ... in amounts to be determined on final hearing, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate permitted by law, and costs of court" in addition to "such other and further relief to which he may be justly or equitably entitled" and "general relief."
Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes in Tyler, Texas.
The lawsuit alleges that Sony executive Tammi Denbow told Mignogna in mid-January she was "investigating three allegations of sexual harassment against him," and that on January 29 "Denbow and another Sony executive informed [Mignogna] that his employment with Funimation was terminated" following an investigation. Denbow is listed on LinkedIn as "Executive Director, Employee Relations at Sony Pictures Entertainment." Sony Pictures Television Networks acquired a majority stake in Funimation in October 2017.
Mignogna has been accused by a number of con attendees of kissing and embracing them without consent over the course of his career, with some allegations dating back to 2008. These allegations spread on social media earlier this year. Fellow voice actors have publicly issued anecdotes of their personal experiences with Mignogna or support for those speaking out via social media.
Mignogna issued an apology at the Bak-Anime event in early February, and posted a public statement later that month. On February 21, Mignogna posted another statement on Twitter that read, "I have now very reluctantly retained a law firm as my last and only recourse to attempt to salvage my reputation and my 20-year career in this industry."