Governor calls latest lawsuit against his COVID-19 orders, “ridiculous”

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Scott County family and others filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Andy Beshear over his recent recommendation to limit indoor gatherings to no more than eight people from two different households to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The 44-page lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Covington on behalf of Austin and Sara Everson, of Scott County, who have seven children.  Another couple, Nicole and James Duvall, of Boone County, are also part of the suit.  They have nine children.

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Two individuals are also part of the suit, Pastor Lee Watts and Tony Wheatley.

The families claim the governor’s recommendation criminalizes their daily family dinner and other household activities.  One of the plaintiffs attorneys, Chris Wiest, asked if the recommendation means no family of nine can have Thanksgiving together?

The governor was asked about the lawsuit by a reporter during his Tuesday coronavirus briefing.  He didn’t mince words.

“It’s ridiculous.  Nobody is saying that a family of ten can’t continue to live together and to eat together.  What we’re saying is, if one family wants to have another family over, it’s only two households, two groups that live under the same roof and eight people total in that group,” Beshear said.  “To suggest we were saying you can’t have dinner with a large family is ridiculous.  And I know that there are some attorneys out there that just itch for fights or want to make the news but, it’s dumb and we don’t need to be having these types of distractions with what we’re trying to do to save lives.  And, that’s what we’re doing.  We are saving lives.  Those that frustrate our attempts to save lives, cost people their lives.  And, seeing your name in a newspaper isn’t worth somebody losing their mom or dad or their brother or their sister,” said the governor.

The lawsuit also goes after the governor’s ban on in-person instruction in all public and private schools statewide.  More than a half-dozen schools claim the order violates the free exercise of religion and freedom to peaceably assemble.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Veritas in Lexington; Central Baptist Academy in Rockcastle County; Cornerstone Christian School in Laurel County; Pleasant View Baptist School in Breckinridge County; Highlands Latin in Louisville; MICAH Christian School in Bullitt County; Mayfield Creek Christian School in Carlisle County and Faith Baptist Academy in Carlisle County.  Also a part of the suit for the private school closure in the  Covington Diocese of the Catholic Church are Wesley and Mitch Deters and their three children.

This is separate from a similar federal lawsuit against the governor filed earlier by 17 other private schools challenging Beshear’s ban, which went into effect November 23, 2020.  Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined the plaintiffs in that lawsuit and Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.

Both lawsuits request a temporary restraining order against Governor Beshear.  The lawsuits have been assigned to U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, who heard oral arguments this week on the first lawsuit from the 17 private schools.  No word on when a ruling could be handed down in either case.

 

 

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.