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Secret Settlements

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Secret Settlements

Brien Roche

Secret settlements are common but they can also be dangerous.  Remington Firearms Company knew of hundreds of documented deaths and injuries resulting from defects in their Model 700 trigger mechanism.  They were able to conceal this flaw for years by entering into secret settlements which prevented other plaintiffs from discovering the problem.  

The Standard For Secret Settlements

If secrecy is sought in the course of litigation, it is worthwhile to make the defendants meet the proper test.  Any Protective Orders dealing with discovery should require that the proponent of secrecy demonstrate good cause for confidentiality as required under Federal Rule 26(c).  The good cause must be fact-based.  Convenience alone does not satisfy the standard.  The Protective Order should state that the proponent of secrecy has the burden of satisfying the good cause standard and also filing the necessary motion.

If there is some disagreement over whether particular items are confidential, it should be stated in the Order that the document cannot be marked as Confidential.

Secret Settlements and Sealing Files

Another common defense tactic is to ask that court files be sealed.  The proponent of secrecy must demonstrate that sealing is warranted under both federal common law and the First Amendment.  Mere embarrassment to a defendant or the concern that public access could result in more litigation does not constitute compelling reasons for secrecy.  These compelling reasons again must be fact-based.

The law supports open court records, especially in cases that involve liability for a dangerous product.  Very few defendants are truly able to satisfy the First Amendment requirement along with the Federal Common Law requirement.  Secret settlements may be worth a great deal during settlement discussions.  The defendant wants to avoid future liability and may also want to keep a known dangerous product on the market.  If those are the objectives, then the defendant should be held to the test.  

For more information on tort and personal injury matters contact Brien Roche and for information on secret settlements see the pages on Wikipedia.

 

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Secret Settlements

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Secret Settlements

Brien Roche

Secret settlements are common but they can also be dangerous.  Remington Firearms Company knew of hundreds of documented deaths and injuries resulting from defects in their Model 700 trigger mechanism.  They were able to conceal this flaw for years by entering into secret settlements which prevented other plaintiffs from discovering the problem.  

The Standard For Secret Settlements

If secrecy is sought in the course of litigation, it is worthwhile to make the defendants meet the proper test.  Any Protective Orders dealing with discovery should require that the proponent of secrecy demonstrate good cause for confidentiality as required under Federal Rule 26(c).  The good cause must be fact-based.  Convenience alone does not satisfy the standard.  The Protective Order should state that the proponent of secrecy has the burden of satisfying the good cause standard and also filing the necessary motion.

If there is some disagreement over whether particular items are confidential, it should be stated in the Order that the document cannot be marked as Confidential.

Secret Settlements and Sealing Files

Another common defense tactic is to ask that court files be sealed.  The proponent of secrecy must demonstrate that sealing is warranted under both federal common law and the First Amendment.  Mere embarrassment to a defendant or the concern that public access could result in more litigation does not constitute compelling reasons for secrecy.  These compelling reasons again must be fact-based.

The law supports open court records, especially in cases that involve liability for a dangerous product.  Very few defendants are truly able to satisfy the First Amendment requirement along with the Federal Common Law requirement.  Secret settlements may be worth a great deal during settlement discussions.  The defendant wants to avoid future liability and may also want to keep a known dangerous product on the market.  If those are the objectives, then the defendant should be held to the test.  

For more information on tort and personal injury matters contact Brien Roche and for information on secret settlements see the pages on Wikipedia.

 

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation