Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Paterno lawsuit filing: parties agree to keep documents confidential

A new filing in the lawsuit that pits the family of Joe Paterno and supporters against the NCAA and Penn State had a rare moment of mutual agreement Monday.

In a joint motion submitted to Centre County Court, all parties agreed on one point. They don’t want all of the documents produced during pre-trial discovery to be made public.

The filing referenced the May 19 hearing on the suit, in which both sides cited a need for those documents to be protected.

“Through a series of discussions, the parties have reached agreement on all but one provision of a protective order,” the motion stated.

The parties claimed to agree on all aspects of the request but one, submitting the motion with the disputed provision and without for the court’s consideration. The request would provide for certain specified sensitive materials to be designated “confidential information” or “highly confidential — attorneys’ eyes only — information.”

In comparing the two versions, the contested portion appears to be under the category of “protection of documents and information.” The difference comes down to a paragraph that requests all pretrial discovery materials, including those without the confidential designations, “shall be used solely for the purpose of preparing and prosecuting the parties’ respective cases, and shall not be used or disclosed for any other purpose.”

The defendants in the case — the NCAA, Penn State, Mark Emmert and Edward Ray — support the more restrictive provision, according to the filing documents. The plaintiffs — the Paterno family, coaches and other supporters — want the version without the additional restraint.

That provision does open the door to other uses of that discovery material that has been either opened up to the public after being made part of the judicial record in the case, or that might be obtained in another way through other publicly available sources.

Each party in the case will submit statements in support of a version of the order by Thursday.

The Paternos and current and former Penn State trustees, former coaches and former players are suing the NCAA, saying the intercollegiate athletics governing body bypassed its own rules when it sanctioned the university in 2012 in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The sanctions include a $60 million fine, a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and the vacating of 112 victories during Paterno’s tenure as head football coach.

Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.