Libel in an Epitaph
Novel Cause of a Damage Suit at Dresden, Tenn.
Memphis lawyers have brought suit in Dresden, Weakly county, Tenn., for damages for defamation of character alleged to be contained in an epitaph cut in a tombstone. Such a cause of action is probably unparalleled; nevertheless the wording on this tombstone is such as is seldom seen in a graveyard.
The parties reside near Martin, Weakly county. In December, 1896, L. B. Cate was shot and killed by Bill Penick. Penick was tried on the charge of murder and was defended by the same lawyers now acting for him in this civil suit. He was acquitted on the plea of self-defense.
The parents of the deceased thought to honor his memory by erecting a suitable tombstone over his grave and by having cut in the marble a legend setting forth the circumstances of his taking off. The following is the epitaph:
L. B., son of J. C. and L. J. Cate, born April 10, 1870. Married Millie Freeman December 21, 1887; was shot and killed by Bill Penick December 11, 1896; caused by Penick swearing a lie on Cate’s wife. Aged 26 years, 8 months and 1 day.It is alleged by Penick that this was exposed to public gaze in the yard of the tombstone-maker for quite awhile before it was erected over the grave of deceased Cate. The complainant sues both the sculptor and the father of the deceased for $10,000 damages.
The Hutchinson News 10/20/1896