Settlement from NHL and others released

Updated: April 14, 2004, 9:02 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The parents of a 13-year-old girl killed by a hockey puck got $1.2 million in a settlement with the NHL and other groups, according to a copy of the agreement made public Wednesday under an appeals court order.

Brittanie Cecil's family reached the settlement last year, but it was sealed until Wednesday, when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that it was a public record and must be made public in response to a request from WBNS-TV of Columbus.

Brittanie died after being struck at a March 2002 Columbus Blue Jackets game.

The team, the NHL and Nationwide Arena agreed to pay $705,000 to Jody Sergent, the girl's mother, and $470,000 to David Cecil, the girl's father.

The high court ruled 6-1 that Preble County Probate Judge Wilfred Dues erred in creating an exception to the state's public records laws to protect the family's privacy rights.

Attorneys for the family received an additional $538,000, the settlement said. It also included $13,000 for funeral expenses.

An attorney representing the family said the high court's decision allowed the TV station's commercial interests to prevail over the family's wish for privacy.

But the president of the station's parent company said the public's right to open government was at stake.

"The news media in this state need to be very aggressive in preserving our access to public records," said Mike Curtin, president of The Dispatch Printing Co., which owns WBNS and has a 10 percent stake in the Blue Jackets.

The company's stake in the team did not affect its decision to pursue details of the settlement, he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press