Pea Ridge businessman Chris Smith and his business, Gulf Coast Gun, are facing a lawsuit for using Pace resident Sam Parker’s name and likeness in sales campaigns. The lawsuit was filed December 21 in civil division of the First Judicial Circuit for Santa Rosa County.
Parker, who has multiple businesses, including a federal firearms license, and currently serves as a Santa Rosa County Commissioner, declined to comment, referring requests for comments to Pensacola Attorney George Mead, II, who is representing Parker in the lawsuit.
Smith vows to fight the complaint and told South Santa Rosa News he has used his (social media) platform to call out Parker for what he describes as “abuses” in office, pointing out that he shared a video which showed Parker asking a local business for a discount for paying with cash and during that video Parker used a term widely considered to be an ethnic slur against the Jewish community.
“We do parody videos making fun of local politicians,” Smith said. “Sam Parker is a public figure and as constituents we are entitled to scrutinize our public officials whether it be at public forum or on our social media.”
According to related court documents, in spring of 2020, Smith on behalf of GCG, began a sales campaign for the products carried by GCG styled as “Taxation is Theft,” offering to cover sales taxes for purchases made during the sales event from approximately April 29, 2020 through May 2, 2020.
Parker’s name was used in what was believed to be the inaugural video for the sales tax promotional sales campaign published by the Defendants on the GCG Facebook social media account page, on or about April 29, 2020.
The documents also claim the Defendants also began to use Plaintiff’s image for such promotional sales posts on various social media accounts of GCG.
“In various social media contexts, Defendants promoted their sales-tax-themed promotion, in effect discounting the amount of sales tax due on purchase, though styled as ‘kickbacks’ for customers, and frequently referring to or associating this derogatory characterization with Plaintiff, and which is not true.”
The lawsuit claims the Defendants have caused to be published numerous other video and social media posts for their sales campaigns or solicitations on various GCG social media posting accounts, including but not limited to: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter.
“Defendants’ have since at least April 2020 continuously and repeatedly used Plaintiff’s name and likeness in many other posted videos, still photos and other social media postings for commercial purposes that are not replicated here, but which are readily available and published on Defendants various social media accounts alleged herein and making similar and repeated promotional uses of Plaintiff’s image to benefit Defendants’ commercial enterprise,” states the complaint, which alleges Unauthorized Publication of Name and Likeness In Violation of §540.08, Fla. Stat..
The lawsuit states Parker is entitled to:
a. Injunction against Defendants’ unauthorized publication and public use of his name and likeness for Defendant’s trade, commercial and advertising purposes; and.
b. To an award of Plaintiff for any loss or injury sustained by reason thereof, including an amount which would have been a reasonable royalty. Plaintiff is also statutorily entitled to award of punitive or exemplary damages when permitted to be pleaded by law.
“By Defendant’s unauthorized publication and commercial use of Plaintiff’s name and likeness, Plaintiff has been damaged, states the complaint, which goes on to state, “Plaintiff has also been damaged by diminishment of the value represented by Plaintiff’s expenditures to generate public engagement with his: efforts in public service; and efforts in his personal business.
- Relief requested by the court includes:
- Finding Defendants have published and made commercial use of Plaintiff’s name and likeness without authorization;
- Enjoining Defendants to remove existing unauthorized publication and commercial use of his name and likeness and to desist from them in the future;
- For an award of damages;
- For allowance to plead and seek punitive or exemplary damages; and
- For such other and further relief as may seem to the Court just and proper.
The lawsuit states that a mutual friend of Parker and Smith offered to ask Smith to stop using Parker’s name and likeness and did so about a year ago; however, the usage continued.