Martin v. American Honda Motor Company

C/A No.: 6:11-2048-HMH

April 22, 2013

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina ruled in favor of Plaintiff Michelle Martin, of Greer, South Carolina, in denying a motion filed by Defendant, American Honda Motor Corp., et. al. wherein Defendant Honda sought to redact the trial transcript to omit the amount of the settlement between Plaintiff and Honda.

The issue arose following a settlement approval hearing where the terms of the previously entered settlement agreement became part of the judicial record. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. 15-51-41, settlement of a wrongful death or survival action must be approved either by a probate court, circuit court, or United States District Court to determine whether the settlement is fair and reasonable. Counsel for Honda was not present at the settlement hearing of the second Defendant, and raised no objection. Honda, by motion, later sought to omit the dollar value of the settlement agreement from the judicial record, arguing that the terms of settlement were subject to a confidentiality clause executed by Plaintiff.

The court disagreed.  In ruling on the matter Judge Herlong Jr. wrote, "[t]he common law right affords presumptive access to all judicial records and documents." 

The Order was entered April 22, 2013. To read the entire opinion you may visit the United States District Court’s PACER utility, at www.pacer.gov.  

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