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Tennessee Brew Works has filed a “John Doe” lawsuit against the person that left an anonymous review, which claimed to overhear brewer Matt Simpson and the company’s founder Christian Spears using the ‘N-word’ during a tour of the brewery. Though the review was posted on social media for a short period of time, it was eventually removed and had disappeared into the ethers of the internet. The company, however, was determined to let the world know it was not racist, and filed a defamation lawsuit against the person, including what was essentially a list of the company’s “black friends” and “POC Events” it and its founders participated in, as evidence it, nor its founders, were racist. They also included the deleted review as an exhibit, which will now be back on the internet, as part of this story.
The newly filed lawsuit alleges that a person hiding behind a pseudonymous social media account published “false and defamatory” statements in a review of Tennessee Brew Works, which is a Nashville-based brewery founded by Christian Spears. The company is seeking to use the rules of civil procedure to know the identity of the anonymous poster and seek the “maximum amount of damages and relief permitted by law”
In the lawsuit, the brewery says the review is unfounded and untrue and spends several pages listing reasons why the company, and its founder, can’t be racist. Such examples include that neither Christian nor Matt would ever use such language, the company has participated in events that feature black brewers, and produced beers based on POC in the community. The lawsuit goes as far as to suggest that the founder could not be racist since he once hosted a forum on diversity that was live-streamed on the internet, and that the company partnered with two breweries earlier this year, which are owned by people of color.
Upon seeing the review, the company responded with a reply from the business owner, which called the author a liar:
Despite the author of the review removing it from the internet on November 8th, the company filed this lawsuit on November 15th, citing the damage was already done and people had viewed it. The company says that people seeing that review cost it “significant monetary damages, harmed its good name, and discouraged customers from visiting the restaurant and brewery.” The lawsuit adds that the review has caused the employees to suffer mental anguish and emotional distress, and disruption to the business.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment prior to publication.