Entrepreneur Stan Pate Sues Over Allegedly Slanderous Statements Made on Facebook
Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate is suing several individuals for libel after they alleged online that he participated in illegal activities, including bribery and drug trafficking.
According to court documents filed in the Circuit Court in Tuscaloosa County Tuesday, Pate is suing William l. Stephens, Jr., Gary Simpson, Alvin Ray Grayson, and fictitious parties A, B, and C, who are "individuals or entities that made false and defamatory statements again the plaintiff, whose identities are currently unknown."
Pate, who has numerous real estate holdings and business interests throughout Tuscaloosa County and the state, said in the filings that Stephens "intentionally created the "Alliance for Responsible Growth" Facebook page to "challenge Mr. Pate and some of his projects in the community."
Pate said Stephens utilized the group and created a website, www.allianceforresponsiblegrowth.com, to "intentionally and maliciously advance his personal vendetta against Mr. Pate."
Pate said the website is "evidence of Mr. Stephens' malice toward Mr.Pate in referring to Mr. Pate, among other slanderous and libelous statements, as 'greedy.'"
The suit said Stephens created and maintained the Facebook group and is the sole moderator for the group and has sole control over the various postings on the platform.
The suit said Stephens "invited, sponsored, authorized, magnified and ratified the false and defamatory statements" made by the second defendant, Simpson, who reportedly authored a post on the Facebook page that said, "now the mayor cannot do what the UA or Stan Pate tells him or pays him to do under the table."
Pate said Simpson's statement is "clearly slander per se" and implies that Pate engaged in the bribery of Mayor Walt Maddox, a public official, which is a crime.
The suit said Simpson was served with a demand for the retraction of his statement and removed the post, but failed to produce a retraction in the same public place or manner as the original post, which is required by law.
The suit said the third defendant, Grayson, also made a comment on a social media posting where he referenced that Pate's "money came from drugs," which suggests he participated in the trafficking of drugs.
The suit said like Simpson, Grayson removed the post, however did not publish a full retraction of the statement in the same manner published, which is required by law.
Pate is suing the parties for negligence, harassment, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, false light and injunctive relief, all of which Pate said have affected him personally and professionally.