LUBBOCK, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to recent court documents, several defendants have had their defamation claims against them dismissed in connection with a lawsuit surrounding the coverage in the aftermath of the death of Thomas Brown.
Brown was a teenager from Canadian who went missing more than six years ago, the day before Thanksgiving, on November 23, 2016. Brown’s remains were found on January 9, 2019, in Canadian.
In February of 2023, a statement released by Klein Investigations and Consulting said that the family of Brown, Chris Meek, Penny Meek, and Tucker Brown, noted as Brown’s stepfather, mother, and brother, filed a defamation lawsuit against multiple North Texas people.
According to background information in court documents, a law enforcement investigation by the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Department, the Texas Rangers, the Texas Attorney General’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the 31st District Attorney’s Office found that there was no evidence to support that Brown committed suicide or that Penny and Chris Meek, or Tucker Brown were “in any way involved in Thomas Brown’s death, or involved in any alleged cover-up of Thomas Brown’s alleged suicide, or involved in any unlawful acts regarding Thomas Brown’s disappearance and death.”
Court documents state that several cases were brought up against multiple entities for engaging in a “prolonged, ongoing civil conspiracy to commit libel, defamation and defamation per see against the estate of Thomas Brown, Chris Meek and Tucker Brown.” Several of those cases were dismissed.
The lawsuit claimed that “the defendants continually published false information that his family engaged in multiple criminal acts to cover up or hide the alleged suicide and that was being spread through social media, the radio, and the local paper.”
As was previously reported by MyHighPlains.com, those defamation cases were brought up against:
- The Canadian Record
- Laurie Brown, individually and as Editor of The Canadian Record
- Michelle Gomez, individually
- Chris Samples Broadcasting, Inc.
- Chris Samples, individually
- Michael Crain, individually
- USA Investigations – Lubbock Texas
- Anita Webb, individually
- Amanda Lehman (s/n Moore)
- Richard Biggs, individually
Court documents said that Elizabeth Michelle Gomez was “unlawfully investigating the disappearance and death of Thomas Brown since 2019, even though Ms. Gomez is not a Texas licensed private investigator…”
In October 2019, Gomez asked the plaintiff’s in the case to sign a pro bono contract to investigate Brown’s death. When they denied Gomez, “joined the defamation campaign against Plaintiffs creating a Facebook webpage called “Justice4ThomasBrown.” The page was said to have posted content that alleged a cover-up of Brown’s alleged suicide.
The case against Gomez was dismissed following the court’s consideration of her Motion to Dismiss on June 5.
Gomez’s motion to dismiss “Under Texas Citizens Participation Act” was denied.
Annita Webb, The Canadian Record, Laurie Brown
Court documents state that Annita Webb claimed to have met a friend of Penny Meek, and said “as an alleged fact Thomas Brown committed suicide and Plaintiffs have covered up his suicide.” Webb was also said to have posted content on social media relating to “defamation remarks” in relation to the case.
Webb was said to have provided information in a “letter to the editor” in the Canadian Record on October 28, 2021.
The documents said that publications on the Canadian Record “demonstrate multiple defamatory ‘stories’ through reporting by Ms. Laurie Ezzell Brown.”
Several articles were said to have been published from 2019 to 2022 by Laurie Brown that contained allegations of “criminal wrongdoing by Plaintiffs.”
On June 7, the court ordered that Laurie Brown and the Canadian Record’s, Rule 91a Motion to Dismiss, be granted. The motion to dismiss the case “Pursuant to the Texas Citizens Participation Act” was denied.
The documents state that “all claims and causes of action asserted by Plaintiffs in this cause against Defendants Laurie Ezzel Brown and the Canadian Record, are Dismissed With Prejudice.”
On May 17, the court granted Webb’s Motion to Dismiss and the case was dismissed against her. Webb’s Motion to Dismiss “Under Texas Citizens Participation Act” was denied.
Amanda Donna Kay Lehman
Court documents state that Amanda Donna Kay Lehman made defamatory remarks on Facebook against Klein and the Plaintiffs in this case.
On June 5, the 99th District Court considered Lehman’s motion to dismiss the case and granted that motion to “Dismiss, With Prejudice.”
Lehman’s motion to dismiss “Under Texas Citizens Participation Act” was denied.
Michael Crain, Chris Samples Broadcasting, Inc., Chris Samples
According to court documents, Micahel Crain appeared on a radio talk show that was DJ’d by Chris Samples, the owner and operator of Chris Samples Broadcasting, Inc. on KXDJ.
Documents said that the defamation suit came from the repeated accusal of Penny Meek, Chris Meek, and Tucker Brown, “engaging in multiple criminal acts involving the disappearance and alleged suicide of Thomas Brown.”
Documents filed in the 99th District Court in Lubbock County, state that Crain filed a Motion to Dismiss the case and a Motion to Dismiss “Under Texas Citizens Participation Act”. Those motions were denied.
The motion filed to deny the suit against Samples and Chris Samples Broadcasting, Inc. including motions that mention to dismiss under “Chapter 27 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Texas Citizens Participation Act, were denied.