United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
April 10, 2017, the parties jointly requested entry of a
protective order so that they may avoid the public disclosure
of confidential information and documents. (Docket #29). Rule
26(c) allows for an order “requiring that a trade
secret or other confidential research, development, or
commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in
a specified way.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(G), Civil L. R.
Court sympathizes with the parties' request and will
grant it, but, before doing so, must note the limits that
apply to protective orders. Protective orders are, in fact,
an exception to the general rule that pretrial discovery must
occur in the public eye. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co. v.
Grady, 594 F.2d 594, 596 (7th Cir. 1979); Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c); see also Citizens First Nat'l Bank of
Princeton v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945-46
(7th Cir. 1999). Litigation must be “conducted in
public to the maximum extent consistent with respecting trade
secrets…and other facts that should be held in
confidence.” Hicklin Eng'r, L.C. v.
Bartell, 439 F.3d 346, 348 (7th Cir. 2006).
the Court can enter a protective order if the parties have
shown good cause, and also that the order is narrowly
tailored to serving that cause. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); see,
e.g., Citizens First Nat'l Bank of
Princeton, 178 F.3d at 945, Jepson, Inc. v. Makita
Elec. Works, Ltd., 30 F.3d 854, 858 (7th Cir. 1994)
(holding that, even when parties agree to the entry of a
protective order, they still must show the existence of good
cause). The Court can even find that broad, blanket
orders-such as the one in this case-are narrowly tailored and
permissible, when it finds that two factors are satisfied:
(1) that the parties will act in good faith in designating
the portions of the record that should be subject to the
protective order; and
(2) that the order explicitly allows the parties to the case
and other interested members of the public to challenge the
sealing of documents.
County Materials Corp. v. Allan Block Corp., 502
F.3d 730, 740 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Citizens First
Nat'l Bank of Princeton, 178 F.3d at 945).
parties have requested the protective order in this case in
good faith. This case involves claims against the various
county defendants, employees, and insurers seeking relief
under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law for alleged
damages arising out of a call from the residence of the
Plaintiff during a medical emergency. (Docket #19). This case
will likely entail disclosure of sensitive employment and
medical information. See, e.g., (Docket #17 at 4).
The Court thus finds that there is good cause to issue the
requested protective order.
the Court finds that a slight change is necessary to maintain
compliance with the above-cited precedent. The proposed order
requires sealing, in whole or in part, of all confidential
documents. This departs from the Court's desire to ensure
that every phase of the trial occurs in the public eye to the
maximum extent possible. See Hicklin Eng'r,
L.C., 439 F.3d at 348. While the Court understands that
some documents will need to be sealed entirely, other
documents may contain only small amounts of confidential
information, and so redaction of those documents may be more
appropriate. The Court has modified the parties' proposed
language to that effect. See supra Paragraph (5).
the Court must note that, while it finds the parties'
proposed order to be permissible and will, therefore, enter
it, the Court subscribes to the view that the Court's
decision-making process must be transparent and as publicly
accessible as possible. Thus, the Court preemptively warns
the parties that it will not enter any decision under seal.
Based on the stipulation of the parties, (Docket #29), and
the factual representations set forth therein, and elsewhere
in the pleadings, the Court finds that exchange of sensitive
information between or among the parties and/or third parties
other than in accordance with this Order may cause
unnecessary damage and injury to the parties or to others.
The Court further finds that the terms of this Order are fair
and just and that good cause has been shown for entry of a
protective order governing the confidentiality of documents
produced in discovery, answers to interrogatories, answers to
requests for admission, and deposition testimony.
IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) and
Civil L. R. 26(e):
following documents are to be handled as confidential and
subject to this Order:
Personnel and employment files of Ryan R. Reinders, Sonya M.