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Texas has a very short statute of limitations for defamation - 1 year from the date the action accrues. This means that someone suing 18 years after the incident would almost certainly be time barred from doing so (meaning they may file their lawsuit, but the defendant could easily defeat the litigation by asserting the statute of limitations in early motion practice).
If the lawsuit is actually filed, it is probably worthwhile for the defendant to hire a lawyer simply because it is in their best interest to take maximum advantage of this statute of limitations and defeat this as quickly and effectively as possible, but it would be possible for someone to do this themselves without an attorney - do expect to spend some time at the local law library working with a set of books called "Practice Guides" that can walk you through this pre-trial strategy and practice to help navigate these motions (Motion to strike / Demurrer / Motion for Summary Judgment).