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.
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.