DOCUMENT 2

ELECTRONICALLY FILED
1/29/2016 10:17AM
26-C V-20 16-900009.00
CIRCUIT COURT OF
DALE COUNTY, ALABAMA
DELORES WOODHAM, CLERK
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF DALE COUNTY, ALABAMA
KEITH CAUTHEN, REX TIPTON, TONY SPIVEY,
EDDY HENDERSON, and GARY WHITTINGTON,
Plaintiffs,

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Vs.

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JON B. CARROLL, RENA CRUMB, DEAN
MATTHEWS, and Fictitious Defendants, “A”,
“B”, and “C” being the persons or entities
which intentionally, negligently, or recklessly,
caused the Plaintiffs to become harmed by the
publication of false and defamatory statements,
Defendants.

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Case No.:

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COMPLAINT
LParties
1.
Plaintiffs, Keith Cauthen, Tony Spivey, Eddy Henderson, and Gary “Butch” Whittington are
residents of Dale County, Alabama and are each over the age of 19 years. Plaintiff Rex Tipton is a
resident of Elmore County, Alabama and is over the age of 19 years. Plaintiffs are current or former law
enforcement officers, all of xvhom previously worked in Ozark, Dale County, Alabama.
2.
Defendant, Jon B. Carroll, is upon information and belief, a resident of Henry County, Alabama
and over the age of 19 years.
Defendant, Rena Crumb, is upon information and belief, a resident of Dale County, Alabama and
3.
is over the age of 19 years.
4.
Defendant, Dean Matthews, is upon infonnation and belief, a resident of Dale County, Alabama
and is over the age of 19 years.
5.
Fictitious Defendants, “A”, “B”, and “C” are individual or entities which intentionally,
negligently, or recklessly, cause the Plaintiffs to become harmed by the publication of false and
defamatory statements, by publishing further defamatory statements against Plaintiffs relating to the facts
of this complaint or republished the story contained in the Henry County Report, causing further harm to
the Plaintiffs.
COUNT 1
(Libel, Slander, and Defamation of Character)
6.
Plaintiffs hereby adopt and incorporate by reference paragraphs I through 5 above as if fully
stated herein.
7.
During and throughout the year 2015, Defendant Jon Carroll operated a blog known as The Henry
County Reporter, which could be accessed via www.henrycountyreport.com.

DOCUMENT 2

On or about November 3, 2015 through November 5, 2015, the Defendants published, orally or in
8.
writing, a series of “news” stories on his blog which referred to the murders of Tracie Hawlett and JB
Beasley, which occurred in Ozark, Alabaman in July of 1999.
9.
In these “news” stories, the Defendants Jon Carroll, Rena Crumb, and Dean Matthews allege that
the Plaintiffs either murdered Tracie Hawlett and JB Beasley or aided in covering up the murder of the
two girls. Several Plaintiffs are named specifically and others, such as Keith Cauthen, are described in
such detail that it is apparent to all in the local community who the Defendant is referring to and there are
no others which is references describe.
10.
The statements published in the Defendant’s blog are false, and Defendants either knew of the
falsity of said statements or published them with a reckless disregard for the truth and with actual malice.
11.
Said statements published in writing by Defendant have caused the reputation of Plaintiffs to
become damaged in their trade and profession, brought into public disgrace, contempt, and infamy, and in
their community, Plaintiffs have been held up to public disgrace, ridicule, odium or contempt. Plaintiffs
have suffered great worry, anxiety, humiliation, and mental and emotional distress, and Plaintiffs seek
compensatory damages for said injuries.
12.
Said statements published in the Defendant’s blog are slander per se in that the false and
defamatory statements accuse Plaintiffs of having committed an indictable offense involving infamy or
moral turpitude—i.e., the crimes of murder, accessory to murder after the fact, and hindering prosecution.
13.
That in addition to the foregoing damages, this action is for punitive damages in that the false and
libelous statements were willful and wanton, published maliciously, and with a total disregard for the
truth.
COUNT 2
(Negligence)

14.
Plaintiffs hereby adopt and incorporate by reference paragraphs I through 13 above as if fully
stated herein.
15.
Defendants Jon Carroll, and any Fictitious Parties, “A”, “B”, and “C”, which published or re
published either orally or in writing statements which allege Plaintiffs were either involved in the murder
of JB Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, or alternatively aided in the cover up in the murder JB Beasley and
Tracie Hawlett, owed a duty to Plaintiffs to properly investigate said claims for truthfulness prior to
publication.
16.
Defendants Jon Carroll, and any Fictitious Parties, “A”, “B”, and “C”, which published or re
published either orally or in writing statements which allege Plaintiffs were either involved in the murder
of JB Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, or alternatively aided in the cover up in the murder JB Beasley and
Tracie Hawlett, breached the duty which they owed Plaintiffs by being negligent and failing to properly
and thoroughly investigate said claims prior to publication.

DOCUMENT 2

17.
As a result of the Defendants negligence, the Plaintiffs were harnied in that Plaintiffs have been
damaged in their trade and profession, brought into public disgrace, contempt, and infamy, and in their
community, Plaintiffs have been held up to public disgrace, ridicule, odium or contempt.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Plaintiffs pray this Honorable Court will grant
such compensatory damages, punitive damages, pain and mental anguish, court costs, and other such
relief as this Court may deem just and proper and for which Plaintiffs are entitled.
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT:
/s/ Adam E. Parker
Adam E. Parker (PAR164)
/s/ Thomas K. Brantley
Thomas K. Brantley (BRAO4O)
/s/ John C. White
John C. White (WHI124)
OF COUNSEL:
Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb
Post Office Box 2047
Dothan, AL 36302
334-677-1000
334-699-3500 (fax)

Brantley & Haywood
401 N. Foster St.
Dothan, AL 36.303

334-793-9009

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certif’ that I have served a copy of the foregoing document upon the Defendants via
certified mail on this the 29th day of January, 2016.
/s/ Adam E. Parker
OF COUNSEL