NASCAR CEO France fights to keep divorce private

The head of the closely held company that stages NASCAR races is fighting to keep the public out of hearings and documents related to a battle with his ex-wife over their high-dollar divorce settlement.

Tuesday's oral arguments before the state Court of Appeals in Charlotte, N.C., mark the second time the court has heard NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France's reasons to close court proceedings generally open to the public.

France's search for secrecy involves a dispute over whether the woman he married and divorced twice, Megan France, violated confidentiality and other provisions of the agreement they reached before divorcing in 2008.

Brian France's attorney had said in open court that the separation agreement included paying his ex-wife $9 million, alimony of $32,000 a month for 10 years, plus $10,000 a month in child support, according to a court filing by Megan France's lawyers.

But five months after the divorce was final, Brian France returned to court to try enforcing their agreement's confidentiality provisions by asking a judge to decide "he was entitled to a sealed court file not only in that matter but in all future civil actions related to the agreement," according to attorneys for The Charlotte Observer and WCNC-TV, which challenged the secrecy.

"The legal implications for the citizens of our state are staggering should Mr. France's position be adopted. Contractual confidentiality between parties affects their legal obligations alone and therefore cannot extend to bind others," the media companies' attorney, Raymond Owens, wrote in a court filing.

Brian France's attorneys argue that letting the public peek into his divorce case imperils his "constitutionally-protected right to a contract, right to a remedy in the trial court for an injury done to him, and right to privacy. The preservation of these constitutional rights is fundamental to the fair administration of justice and of paramount public interest." AutoWeek

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