United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge
18, 2017, the parties filed a joint stipulation for entry of
a protective order. (Docket #24). The parties request that
the Court enter a protective order so that they 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).
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
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 including, for example,
proprietary business information. See (Docket #13 at
4). The Court thus finds that there is good cause to issue
the requested protective order.
the Court finds that one slight change is necessary to
maintain compliance with the above-cited precedent.
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. The Court has modified the parties' proposed
language to that effect. See supra Paragraph 8.
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 parties' joint stipulation, (Docket #24),
and the factual 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
IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) and
Civil L. R. 26(e):
term “document” shall mean all written,
recorded, electronic or graphic material, however produced or
reproduced, pertaining in any way to the subject matter of
Parties may designate as “Confidential”
all or part of any document they have generated or produced,
by affixing the word “CONFIDENTIAL” on the
document in a manner that will not interfere with the
legibility or readability of the document. There shall be a
subcategory of confidential materials, identified as
“Attorneys' Eyes Only, ” designated
by affixing the words “ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY”
on the document in a manner that will not interfere with the
legibility or readability of the document, which shall be
treated in the same manner as confidential material pursuant
to the terms of this Order, except with the further
restriction that such Attorneys' Eyes Only material shall
be disclosed by the Parties only to outside attorneys working
on this litigation for the Parties, and the law clerks,
paralegals, office clerks and secretaries working under
outside attorneys' supervision, and to outside experts
who also agree to be bound by this Order. Together, these
classes of confidential material are herein referred to as
Designation as Confidential Information shall be made, where
practical, by marking each page of a document, each separate
part or component of a thing, or each separate item of other
information in a conspicuous manner. If it is not practical
to mark each page of a document, as in the case of a bound
publication, the cover of such document shall be so marked.
If not ...