A judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the release of certain records related to Bob Saget's death investigation in Florida, one day after his family filed a lawsuit requesting those documents be kept private.
Saget’s wife, Kelly Rizzo, and three daughters, Aubrey, Lara and Jennifer, filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Orange County Sheriff John Mina and the District Nine Medical Examiner’s Office.
Both agencies have been handling the probe into Saget's death after the comedian, 65, was found dead Jan. 9 in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.
Circuit Judge Vincent Chiu found that Saget’s family would suffer “irreparable harm” and stated “plaintiffs have a clear legal right or interest in the Protected Records as the surviving spouse and children of Mr. Saget,” according to the motion to grant the injunction.
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County, sought to keep some death investigation records — including photographs, video recordings, audio and autopsy information — confidential and exempt from public disclosure due to how they depict Saget.
"Upon information and belief, some of these Records graphically depict Mr. Saget, his likeness or features, or parts of him, and were made by Defendants during Defendants’ investigations," the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit said the family will “suffer irreparable harm in the form of extreme mental pain, anguish, and emotional distress” if the records are released publicly.
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The suit stated that certain media outlets have filed or plan to file public records requests for documents in the case, but “no legitimate public interest would be served by the release or dissemination of the records to the public.”
The family requested a temporary injunction until the court makes a ruling in the case.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office released a statement in the wake of the suit.
"While we are sensitive to the family’s concerns about the right to privacy, that must be balanced with our commitment to transparency, compliance with the law, and the public’s right to know," it said.
The sheriff's office has not responded to Chiu's latest ruling.
Because autopsy reports are public records, the judge’s ruling surprised Dr. Stephen Nelson, who chairs the Florida Medical Examiners Commission and is the chief medical examiner in an adjoining Central Florida district.
“The only records that would be exempt would be the autopsy report, toxicology report and things like that … I’m surprised the judge could countermand state law,” Nelson said. “Anything that we do that’s paid for with taxpayer dollars is a public record, except for those things for which there are a public-records exemption: photographs, video and audio recordings.”
Joshua Stephany, the Chief Medical Examiner of Orange and Osceola Counties, also addressed the suit.
“The District 9 Medical Examiner’s office continues to offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Robert Saget," he said. "At this time we have no comment on current or pending litigation involving the office.”
The lawsuit came days after it was revealed the "Full House" actor died of head trauma.The Saget family said in a statement that officials concluded he accidentally hit the back of his head on something and went to sleep, noting no drugs or alcohol were involved.
The family’s statement was the first public announcement of the cause of death.
Stephany ruled Saget’s death an accident.
“It is most probable that the decedent suffered an unwitnessed fall backwards and struck the posterior aspect of his head," he said.
Saget also tested positive for Covid-19, the medical examiner found, confirming an earlier family statement. That finding was not linked to his death.
The medical examiner has previously said there was no evidence of drug use or foul play. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had said the same thing at the time.