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Wednesday a Connecticut probate judge granted a reporter’s request to unseal records of a hearing upholding a $1.1 million settlement between Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Jennifer Hagel Smith, the widow of George Smith, who disappeared while on a honeymoon cruise in July 2005.

Reporter Joan Lownds, acting on behalf of the Greenwich Post, requested the release of records including the transcript of Jennifer Hagel Smith’s testimony at the hearing. The judge initially sealed the documents for confidentiality reasons.

Lownds argued that the judge should grant her request because the information “is necessary to cover this important and highly publicized case fairly and accurately.” George Smith’s family members, who also requested that the records be unsealed, appealed Hagel Smith’s settlement in order to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the cruise line. Judge David Hopper ordered that the records be opened under the Freedom of Information (FOI) request and reviewed by the parties and the Department of Justice before they are released in 60 days, in case any portions need redaction.

Read more about this intriguing case in the Greenwich Citizen and Greenwich Post.

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