Editor's note: The Newton Citizen is a part of Southern Community Newspapers, Inc., the parent company of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
COVINGTON -- An attorney representing LaQuanda Brown Carpenter, principal at Alcovy High School, has filed a lawsuit against 11 "John Does" who commented about Carpenter on the Newton Citizen website.
The lawsuit claims that Carpenter has "experienced enormous suffering and damage to her reputation in the community and to her trade or profession" as a result of the website postings.
Carpenter is seeking court costs and monetary damages to be determined by a jury.
Attorney Stephanie Lindsey filed the suit claiming defamation and libel late Wednesday in the Newton County Superior Court Clerk's office.
Commenters on the website may use pseudonyms, but Lindsey said it is not necessary to know the actual names of the commenters in order to file suit against them.
"We have identified them enough so they will know who we are talking about," she said. "We will go ahead and get their actual names at a later time."
Lindsey said the newspaper will be subpoenaed for the actual names of those whose comments are cited in the lawsuit.
The pseudonyms named as "John Does" in the lawsuit are MsLoy, bluedeyeddevil, avidreader, spdracer90, GwinnettTransplant, amp72, newtoncountyparent, watermelonlover, beautifulblueeyes, Satan69, and KBeet.
The lawsuit cites 11 comments posted on the website between Feb. 10 and April 19, claiming that the comments are false, intended to expose Carpenter to "hatred, contempt and/or ridicule," and made with reckless disregard for the truth.
The comments were generally critical of Carpenter's performance as principal and of the fact that her husband, Dennis Carpenter, is deputy superintendent for operations, overseeing human resources and other school system departments.
In the case of most lawsuits, Lindsey said defendants are notified when they are served papers by the sheriff. "But in a 'John Doe' situation like we have here, they are served by the sheriff at the time their identity is determined," she said.