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Nicholson v. Cashnetusa Co. LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

August 9, 2017

TIFFANY NICHOLSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CASHNETUSA CO. LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          J. P. Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge

         On August 7, 2017, the parties filed a joint stipulation for entry of a protective order. (Docket #18). The parties request that the Court enter a protective order so that the parties may avoid the public disclosure of confidential information and documents. Id. 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).

         The 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).

         Nonetheless, 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). The parties have requested the protective order in this case in good faith; they seek the order so that they might freely exchange sensitive information. (Docket #18 at 1). The Court thus finds that there is good cause to issue the requested protective order.[1]

         Finally, 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.

         Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that based on the parties' joint stipulation, (Docket #18), and the representations set forth therein, 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; and IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) and Civil L. R. 26(e):

         (A) DESIGNATION OF CONFIDENTIAL OR ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY 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 words “CONFIDENTIAL” or “ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY.”

(1) One who produces information, documents, or other material may designate them as “CONFIDENTIAL” when the person in good faith believes they contain trade secrets or nonpublic confidential technical, commercial, financial, personal, or business information.
(2) One who produces information, documents, or other material may designate them as “ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY” when the person in good faith believes that they contain particularly sensitive trade secrets or other nonpublic confidential technical, commercial, financial, personal, or business information that requires protection beyond that afforded by a CONFIDENTIAL designation.
(3) Except for information, documents, or other materials produced for inspection at the party's facilities, the designation of confidential information as CONFIDENTIAL or ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY must be made prior to, or contemporaneously with, their production or disclosure. In the event that information, documents or other materials are produced for inspection at the party's facilities, such information, documents, or other materials may be produced for inspection before being marked confidential. Once specific information, documents, or other materials have been designated for copying, any information, documents, or other materials containing confidential information will then be marked confidential after copying but before delivery to the party who inspected and designated them. There will be no waiver of confidentiality by the inspection of confidential information, documents, or other materials before they are copied and marked confidential pursuant to this procedure.
(4) Portions of depositions of a party's present and former officers, directors, employees, agents, experts, and representatives will be deemed confidential only if designated as such when the deposition is taken or ...

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