Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser on Tuesday ordered attorneys representing James Batmasian to alert The Palm Beach Post of any motions they file that would limit public access to a series of salacious lawsuits against the Boca Raton real estate mogul.
Saying courts repeatedly have given newspapers the right to intervene in lawsuits when efforts are made to seal records that would otherwise be public, Sasser rejected impassioned pleas from Batmasian’s attorneys to keep the newspaper from intervening.
The issue arose after Batmasian attorneys George Sigalos and Bridget Berry filed motions to seal the court file in one case and obtained an order to seal the file in another case. They also filed an unsuccessful lawsuit last month seeking to prevent the paper from publishing a story about the lawsuits. The paper obtained copies of the suits before the records were sealed and published a story about them — an act Berry described as “snatching the power of the court by rushing to press.”
Sigalos claimed the lawsuits, accusing Batmasian of various misdeeds, including sexual harassment and financial crimes, contain trade secrets and other proprietary information and therefore should be kept from public view. Sasser said Sigalos will have a chance to raise such issues at future hearings when a decision is made as to whether the records should remain sealed from public view.