On May 9, 2024, a Utah Court dismissed the case against Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP’s client Katherine Ballard with prejudice under Utah’s newly enacted Uniform Public Expression Protection Act (Utah.Stat. § 78B-25-101, et seq.) (“UPEPA”). BKLW partners Thomas H. Bienert, Jr., Whitney Z. Bernstein, attorneys Alexis Paschedag Federico, Nancy J. Sandoval, and paralegal Toni Thomas represented Mrs. Ballard, along with Armstrong Teasdale attorneys Trinity Jordan, Brennan H. Moss, and Jordan Westgate, in the case, which is one of the first court decisions applying the UPEPA.

Plaintiff Celeste Borys sued Mrs. Ballard after Mrs. Ballard appeared on two podcasts and spoke in defense of her husband, Tim Ballard, the founder and former CEO of an anti-child trafficking organization who is a defendant in multiple cases involving his anti-trafficking work.

The Court agreed that Mrs. Ballard was exercising her right to speak on matters of public concern, and thus, the claims against her fell within the ambit of the UPEPA. Because Borys failed to present prima facie evidence in support of her claims against Mrs. Ballard, Third District Court Judge Todd Shaughnessy dismissed all claims against Mrs. Ballard.

“This is the first time the plaintiffs in the cases against Tim and Katherine have been required to show actual evidence to support their claims in court, and they were unwilling or unable to do so,” said Alexis Paschedag Federico. “We’re grateful that the Court in this case followed the law and dismissed the case as a result.”

“We were pleased with Judge Shaughnessy’s decision, making this case one of the first of its kind under the newly enacted UPEPA statute,” said Trinity Jordan. “We anticipate that other Utahans will have their rights protected similarly through UPEPA when they are unnecessarily dragged into litigation for speaking out and exercising their right to voice their opinion.”

Borys was also ordered to pay Mrs. Ballard’s reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees related to the dismissal motion.

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