Q May a county pay attorney’s fees and costs expended by the surety carrier in the defense of his/her bond, if the suit arises from action undertaken in the performance of the surety carrier’s official duties?

A Yes, Section 11-46-7(3) requires a local government to defend its employee for any tort claims made against the employee arising out of the employee’s course and scope of employment. Pursuant to the authority vested in Sections 25-1-47 and 11-46-7, it is clear that a county is authorized to provide legal counsel for the defense of any action brought against any one of the entities enumerated in the statute and is authorized to pay for costs and expenses incident to such defense in litigation arising as a result of the actions of its employees and officer acting in such capacity. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Russell, November 30,2016)