Duggar daughters oppose immunity request
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.