Lubbock County asks court to seal NAAG Pathology contract: 'competitive disadvantage'
As of July 1, 2019, the district court ordered the Motion and Protection of NAAG Pathology Labs, PC's contract with Lubbock County to be sealed.
The court found Lubbock County has a specific, serious and substantial interest in not having the contract viewed by the public. The court also found the county had an interest in sealing the records, stating it clearly outweighs the presumption of openness.
There were no less restrictive means to protect Lubbock County's information from public view without sealing its contract with NAAG Pathology Labs, PC.
The district attorney's office asked a state district court to seal its contract with the company that runs the county's medical examiner office in a filing Friday.
It was filed in Ortiz v. Matshes, Andrews, et al. That's the only case still active against against the company and its administrators after Judge Ruben Reyes dismissed the Graves case. Ortiz claimed the office dismembered her child during an autopsy last fall to benefit Evan Matshes' research.
In his filing, assistant district attorney Andrew Wipke claimed the contract staying public gives the county a "competitive disadvantage" when it comes to finding a new medical examiner. NAAG Pathology informed Lubbock County in May it won't renew its one-year contract with the county later this year, citing "political and personal agendas" disrupting its work.
The DA's office suggested there are no less-restrictive means to protect the information, and indicated the "presumption of openness of court records is not outweighed by the interest in protecting the release of sensitive financial information" in the contract.
The request asks the court seal Ortiz's response to Sam Andrews' motion to dismiss. That's the document that included the contract as an exhibit. Attorneys for Ortiz, NAAG, Matshes, and Andrews signed on agreeing to the request.
"Whether we are going to hire just a medical examiner or medical forensic pathologist...we're getting a lot of inquiries right now and we will be making that decision this summer and start budget process next week," County Judge Curtis Parrish said. "Through the budget, we will determine what direction we will go as far as our medical examiner services."