United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CONRAD D. COTTINGHAM, JR., a minor by his legal and general guardians Conrad D. Cottingham, Sr. and Tyronza Cottingham, Plaintiff,
CITY OF RACINE, RACINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, BRINELLE A. NABORS, in his individual capacity, and JEROME D. KING, in his individual capacity, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
April 13, 2017, the parties jointly requested entry of a
protective order so that they may avoid the public disclosure
of sensitive information and documents in this case. (Docket
#36). 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.
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 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999)).
parties have requested the protective order in this case in
good faith. This is a civil rights case involving allegations
of excessive force causing injury, and it will therefore
likely entail disclosure of sensitive information such as,
among other things, medical information. (Docket #1). The
Court thus finds that there is good cause to issue the
requested protective order.
the Court finds that two slight changes are necessary to
maintain compliance with the above-cited precedent. First,
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 (C)(2). Second, consistent with the
Court's and this district's standard practice, the
Court will allow members of the public to challenge the
confidentiality of documents filed in this case. See
supra Paragraph (D).
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 #36), 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.
ORDERED that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) and Civil L. R.
DESIGNATION OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. Designation of
information under this Order must be made by placing or
affixing on the document or material, in a manner that will
not interfere with its legibility, the word
(1) One who produces information, documents, or other
material may designate them as “CONFIDENTIAL”
when they contain sensitive information, including but not
limited to home telephone numbers, ...