United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STATE OF WISCONSIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROPERTY INSURANCE FUND, Plaintiff,
LEXINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY, THE CINCINNATI INSURANCE COMPANY, and MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
9, 2017, the parties filed a letter indicating that they have
stipulated to the entry of a protective order submitted to
the Court's proposed order e-mail address. (Docket #81).
The parties request that the Court enter a protective order
so that they may avoid the public disclosure of confidential
information and documents. 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. 26(e).
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 action involves a dispute over insurance
coverage for a fire at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
(Docket #1-2). The discovery process will involve the
exchange of sensitive business and insurance-related
materials. 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 7.
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.
IT IS ORDERED that based on the parties' stipulation,
(Docket #81), 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, deposition testimony, and the
inadvertent production of privileged material.
THEREFORE ORDERED that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c), Civil
L. R. 26(e), and Federal Rule of Evidence 502:
Nondisclosure of “Confidential” Documents.
party or third-party may designate information disclosed as
“CONFIDENTIAL”. A “Confidential”
document means any document produced in this litigation which
bears the legend (or which shall otherwise have had the
legend recorded upon it in a way that brings it to the
attention of a reasonable examiner)
“CONFIDENTIAL” to signify that it contains
information believed to be subject to protection.
“Confidential” material shall include non-public
commercial or financial information, proprietary information,
confidential data and other commercially sensitive business
information. For purposes of this order, the term
“document” means, all written, recorded, or
graphic material, including electronically stored
information, whether produced or created by a party or
another person, whether produced pursuant to subpoena, by
agreement, or otherwise, and shall include interrogatory
answers, responses to requests for admission, and other
discovery responses that quote, summarize, or contain
material entitled to protection.
with the prior written consent of the party or other person
originally designating a document produced in this litigation
to be stamped as a “Confidential” document, or as
hereinafter provided under this Order, no document produced
and designated as ...