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Lawsuit targets five for making ‘˜defamatory’ remarks on Facebook

In what is thought to be a first in local court filings, a business owner and real estate agent have filed a lawsuit in Lamar superior court against five people for defamatory remarks made on a local Facebook page and other social media. Alan Atha, Staci Donaldson and Upscale Homes, Inc. filed litigation March 1 against Jami Lori Conklin, Ruthie Conklin, David Crawley, Roger Shuman and Penny Marie Hutson. All the defendants have been served with copies of the suit by officers of the court. Atha is the principal in Custom Homes Inc. which has offices in Brooks, Ga. Donaldson is a real estate agent in the area. In their suit, the plaintiffs allege the ‘defendants’ false and inflammatory statements made on social media have caused the plaintiffs actual harm and proximately caused the plaintiffs damages’. The social media posts are described as ‘defamatory statements and disparaging words’ and amount to ‘intentional conduct calculated to cause the defendants harm’ and the plaintiffs are ‘indifferent to the consequences’. The suit further alleges the posts were an effort to bring about ‘continued and systematic defamation of plaintiffs and constitute such conduct that is willfully malicious, fraudulent and perpetrated with wantonness and oppression’. Donaldson, Atha and his company are seeking a cease and desist order, attorneys’ fees and costs, punitive damages in an unspecified amount and further relief as the court sees fit. The plaintiffs are represented by Jason Smith of Southern Piedmont Law Group in Newnan. No attorneys are listed for the defendants.

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