Just because Eagles frontman Glenn Frey was famous doesn’t mean his wife’s wrongful-death suit should be completely sealed until trial, a judge ruled Thursday.
“Why should a famous plaintiff be entitled to protections that less renowned individuals can only dream of?” wrote Manhattan Supreme Court Justice George Silver. The celebrity of the parties in a particular case should not entitle them to the presumption that their medical records or financial information will be sealed purely on account of their fame.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Frey’s widow, Cindy Frey, had filed a lawsuit against gastroenterologist Dr. Steven Itzkowitz last year claiming that he was negligent in treating the singer’s ulcerative colitis in 2015, which helped lead to her husband’s death a year later.
Cindy sued for $12 million, claiming that is the amount that the 68-year-old “Take it Easy” singer could have made had he lived.
But Cindy had refused to disclose Frey’s financial records to prove it, the doctor’s lawyers said. And after the parties disagreed on how to redact the records, Cindy’s lawyers asked that the case be sealed in its entirety until trial.
Silver said he wasn’t persuaded that the tax, financial and health records should be “afforded a heightened level of protection from disclosure” or that sealing was warranted “because of decedent’s status as a critically acclaimed and well-renowned member of the popular musical group the Eagles.”
The judge also quoted an excerpt from the classic tome “To Kill a Mockingbird”: “In this country, our courts are the great levellers, and in our courts, all men are created equal.”
While the judge wouldn’t allow a blanket sealing of the case, he said he would consider partial sealing on a case-by-case basis for certain records.
A lawyer for Cindy Frey did not return a request for comment.