Following the procedure of Moody v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 664 S.E.2d 569 (N.C. App. 2008), and Judge Tennille’s Order in Moody v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 2008 NCBC 14 (N.C. Super. Ct. Aug. 6, 2008) applying that ruling, the Court approved the withdrawal of class action claims.
The Court permitted the parties to keep confidential the terms of the settlement with the individual Plaintiff. Judge Diaz recognized that the settlement papers filed with the Court were "public records and, thus, are presumed to be available for public inspection pursuant to the North Carolina Public Records Act," but he reasoned as follows in agreeing to keep them confidential:
In Virmani v. Presbyterian Health Servs. Corp., 350 N.C. 449, 463, 515 S.E.2d 675, 685 (1999), the North Carolina Supreme Court held that “a trial court may, in the proper circumstances, shield portions of court proceedings and records from the public[.]”
In the absence of the class action allegations, the parties "could have settled their dispute confidentially and filed a voluntary dismissal without any oversight from this Court."
The amount being paid, as described by Judge Diaz, was "relatively insubstantial, particularly when viewed in the context of the high-dollar business disputes typical of this Court’s docket."
The case did not implicate substantial public policy concerns. There had not been an interest voiced by the media or the public in the Plaintiff’s allegations.
Maintaining the confidentiality of the settlement was in the best interests of justice, in the absence of any prejudice to the putative class members or the public at large.