Fox Cable Networks, Fox Entertainment Group and National Geographic Society are being sued by a widow of an Army soldier over the documentary Inside Afghan ER, which she claims shows unauthorized pictures of her and her children. Donnice Roberts, whose husband Staff Sgt Kevin Casey Roberts was killed on duty in Afghanistan in May 2008, says her family’s lives are in danger from radical fanatics because of what was shown in the documentary, which never aired in the U.S. (Authorized by the Pentagon, Inside Afghan ER only aired internationally in 2009.) Roberts wants an injunction against Inside Afghan ER and more than $75,000 in damages, and she is seeking an order to stop the names and images of military families being used without their permission. Fox and National Geographic Society are partners in the Nat Geo Channel and Nat Geo Channels International. The suit was filed November 1 in U.S. District Court in Texas; service summons orders against the plaintiffs were filed Wednesday. “We have not been served with a lawsuit and as a result we can’t comment,” a Fox spokesperson said today, speaking for all defendants.
It is not clear from the suit whether Roberts has actually seen Inside Afghan ER. She says in her legal action that she was first informed of the film from a military service member stationed in Germany who saw it in 2009 on the Armed Services Network. She was told the film shows her husband’s “dead body” and that Inside Afghan ER has a photograph of the Roberts family at Disney World. The widow believes the photo was “taken from Sergeant Roberts’ personal laptop after his death and without any permission from the Roberts family.” The suit says Roberts contacted National Geographic for a copy of Inside Afghan ER and the family photo supposedly shown in the film but was allegedly told she would have to sign a release before she could have a copy of the film. “Mrs. Roberts refused to sign a Release,” says her suit. Roberts is represented by Jeffrey T. Embry of the Tyler, Texas firm Hossley & Embry.