Dug­gar daugh­ters op­pose im­mu­nity re­quest

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - DOUG THOMP­SON

FAYETTEVILLE — Washington County and two peo­ple em­ployed by it should not re­ceive im­mu­nity from an in­va­sion of pri­vacy law­suit brought by for­mer stars of the 19 Kids and Count­ing tele­vi­sion show, the plain­tiffs ar­gued in a re­ply filed in fed­eral court Mon­day.

Four daugh­ters in the Jim Bob Dug­gar fam­ily of Ton­ti­town are su­ing In Touch mag­a­zine, the city of Spring­dale, Washington County and oth­ers for the re­lease of a po­lice re­port de­tail­ing how a brother, Josh Dug­gar, fon­dled the girls and at least one other girl who was vis­it­ing. Josh Dug­gar told his par­ents in March 2002 what he had done. In Touch ob­tained a copy of the re­port through the state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act and re­leased de­tails on May 21, 2015. The fam­ily’s tele­vi­sion show was can­celed soon there­after.

The county and its em­ploy­ees, along with Spring­dale and its em­ploy­ees named in the suit, violated the pri­vacy of the daugh­ters by re­leas­ing a re­port that should have been kept con­fi­den­tial be­cause Josh Dug­gar was a mi­nor at the time of the fondling, the suit ar­gues. He was an adult when the re­port was re­leased.

Re­lease of the re­port violated the pri­vacy of the girls, ac­cord­ing to a law­suit the sis­ters filed jointly in May. The county filed a mo­tion July 10 ask­ing for that the county, an em­ployee and a for­mer em­ployee named in the suit to be dis­missed from the case. The mo­tion said the county and its em­ploy­ees are im­mune to such suits un­der fed­eral law. Even if the county is not dis­missed, the mo­tion ar­gued, the two em­ploy­ees were act­ing as agents of the county.

County em­ploy­ees are not im­mune if plain­tiffs rights are violated and the em­ploy­ees in­volved would have rea­son­ably known they were vi­o­lat­ing that right, the daugh­ters’ le­gal re­ply states. As for the county it­self, its claim of im­mu­nity ap­plies in negligence cases but not in cases of an in­ten­tional act by the county and its em­ploy­ees, the re­ply claims.

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