Judge agrees to extend protective order


LEXINGTON, N.C. – A judge hearing a challenge to an
insurer's refusal to pay a $3.7 million death claim on the late
race car driver Dale Earnhardt agreed Friday to withhold from the
jury parts of Earnhardt's racing contract.

Superior Court Judge Kimberly Taylor extended an earlier
protective order Thursday at the request of the attorney for
Richard Childress Racing – Earnhardt's employer – who argued some of the documents, including Earnhardt's contract, were proprietary.

That ruling came after a reporter for The Associated Press asked
to review evidence introduced to the jury in open court, but kept
from the media and courtroom spectators. The reporter was told the
information was under a protective order.

The AP, joined by The Charlotte Observer, NASCAR Scene and the
North Carolina Press Association, later filed a motion asking the
court to reconsider.

Taylor did not rule Friday on the AP request; the issue, along
with a request by the AP and several news organizations to unseal
documents in the case, is expected to be handled Tuesday, court
clerk Brian Shipwash said.

The judge also issued an order prohibiting cameras from the

RCR has accused insurer United of Omaha of cheating widow Teresa
Earnhardt out of a $3.7 million payment after Earnhardt died in a
crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. RCR took out the policy and is
pursuing the matter on the family's behalf.

The car owner said the insurer failed to properly investigate
before denying payment just days after the driver's death. The
company argues the policy was never valid for Earnhardt because he
had not taken a required physical.

Testimony Friday included depositions from insurance company
executives and investigators, who said they conducted an
investigation into whether Earnhardt had a valid policy.