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State Ex Rel. Wbns Tv, Inc. V. Dues

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State ex rel. WBNS TV, Inc. v. Dues, 101 Ohio St. 3d 406, 805 N.E.2d 1116 (2004).

Facts:

On March 16, 2002, 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was struck in her head by a hockey puck while attending a Columbus Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. She died two days later. In April, Judge Dues appointed Jody Sergent, Brittanie's mother, as administrator of the estate. Sergent filed an application to approve settlement and distribution of wrongful death and survival claims, which did not contain amounts of settlement, reasonable attorney fees, reimbursement to the attorney for case expenses, or the allocations for the wrongful death and survival actions. Also, a motion to seal the application, any entry approving settlement, and any report of distribution was filed by Sergent. Judge Dues granted the motion. On February 26, 2003, WBNS TV, Inc. requested copies of the application to approve settlement and distribution of wrongful death and survival claims, entry approving settlement, reports of distribution, and all documents used by the probate court to determine whether to approve the application. Judge McGuire, stating that the motion and entry had been sealed and that the report of distribution had not been filed, denied WBNS TV's request. WBNS TV moved to vacate the sealing order and an evidentiary hearing was held on April 28, 2003. The motion to vacate the sealing order was denied on June 17, 2003. However, some information from the application could be disclosed. On August 19, 2003, WBNS TV filed an action for a writ of mandamus to compel the judges to immediately produce copies or permit access to the records. An alternative writ was granted. Evidence and briefs were filed, but WBNS TV failed to file a timely reply brief. On December 16, 2003, a revised motion for oral argument was filed, but that motion was denied.

Issue:

(1) Did Judge Dues and Judge McGuire error in denying WBNS TV the right of access to the settlement figures on the basis of a judicially created exception?

(2) Is WBNS TV entitled to receive attorney fees due to

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