By Joe Beck
Frederick County kennel owner Russell Ebersole, fresh off winning a defamation lawsuit that awarded him a total of $30,000, is back in court suing a Berryville woman linked to the defendant in the earlier case.
Ebersole filed a complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg accusing Sharlin Oren of defamation and seeking a total of $3.7 million in damages.
The complaint describes Oren as a friend and associate of Bridget Kline-Perry of Purcellville, the defendant in the first lawsuit.
The complaint states that both women communicate often through Facebook and other social media sites that were the focus of the suit against Kline-Perry.
The complaint extends allegations Ebersole first made against Kline-Perry to Oren, accusing her of spreading falsehoods online that led some customers of Ebersole's Aberdeen Acres Pet Care Center in Stephenson to stop doing business with him and discouraged prospective customers from choosing the kennel for their dogs.
Ebersole's complaint also states that the allegedly defamatory statements caused him to suffer "damage to reputation and standing in the community, embarrassment, humiliation, and mental suffering."
The alleged defamation led others to believe that "Mr. Ebersole in his business conduct is a con man, a 'monster,' a dog abuser and lacks the training and certificates necessary or proper for his profession," according to the complaint.
The complaint includes allegations that Kline-Perry and Oren decided on Nov. 28 to wage a campaign against Ebersole and his business that included contacting the animal rights organization PETA. The goal was to obtain PETA's help "in staging demonstrations in front of Aberdeen Acres and generating media attention negative to Mr. Ebersole and Aberdeen Acres so as to deter Mr. Ebersole's business and 'help' the police prosecute Mr. Ebersole," the complaint states.
The complaint does not say what response, if any, PETA, gave to their overtures.
The complaint states that Oren was a customer of Aberdeen Acres but has not done business with the kennel since 1998. The complaint accuses her of writing a defamatory letter on Nov. 29 to Kline-Perry. The letter was "to be posted on Facebook and emailed to various news and media outlets and politicians," according to the complaint.
The complaint further states that Kline-Perry posted Oren's allegedly defamatory letter to her Facebook, page, "a page with 5,000 likes at the time."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 800-296-5137 ext. 142 or at firstname.lastname@example.org