SW Legal studies in Business

Injured Metallica Fan in One State May Not Intervene in Injured Metallica Fan Litigation in Other State
Description Appeals court affirmed that a court has the right to seal the discovery material from litigation that was settled. A fan injured at a Metallica concert in Ohio settled his case. A fan injured at a Metallica concert in Indiana, and suing Metallica, had no right to have access to the Ohio records.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Discovery; Intervention; Access to Records
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Phillips was rendered a paraplegic when he crashed to the ground at a Metallica concert in Ohio. He had repeatedly volunteered to be "launched" into the air above the fans as part of the "moshing" at the concert. He sued Metallica. Adams sustained an injury when he was slammed to the ground during moshing at a Metallica concert in Indiana, during the performance of the opening act, Suicidal Tendencies. Adams, suing Metallica, sought to intervene in the Phillips litigation involving the Metallica concert in Ohio, which was settled and voluntarily dismissed by those parties. The judge agreed to seal the case materials, which meant they were protected by court order. Adams sought access to the materials as relevant to his litigation in Indiana. The Ohio court refused his request. Adams appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "Discovery has historically never been open to the public." Discovery "in a private lawsuit does not involve government activity other than judicial supervision." When discovered materials, such as depositions, are entered into the record in court they usually become part of the public record of the trial, but this is not an absolute rule. Such materials are sealed only when there is "good cause" for that. Here the court placed a protective order on the Phillips case materials at the request of the parties. Adams has no right to intervene in that litigation. Such intervention is at the discretion of the trial judge. As Metallica argues, the facts of the Adams case are quite different from the Phillips case; that weakens Adams' rationale for access to the Phillips records. Further, Metallica was not even performing when Adams was injured. Metallica also has a privacy interest in having the materials of the Phillips case protected; that interest weighs into the determination. Adams, being an Indiana resident involved in litigation against Metallica in Indiana, does not have standing (rights) to see the trial records from the Ohio case. Adams has the right in the Indiana litigation to use discovery to find out relevant information from Metallica and other parties that Adams thinks the court should know, but has no right to intervene in the prior Ohio case.
Citation Adams v. Metallica, Inc., 2001 WL 584329 (Ct. App., Ohio, 2001)

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