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E-Alert Case Updates

Public Interest May Outweigh Consent Request To File Motion Under Seal

Feldman’s Med. Ctr. Pharm., Inc. v. Carefirst, Inc.
SKG-10-254 (D. Md. 2011)

by Lydia S. Hu, Associate
Semmes, Bowen & Semmes (

This case originated with the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, which signed a Stipulation and Order Regarding Confidentiality (“Confidentiality Stipulation”) on September 22, 2009. The Confidentiality Stipulation identified certain categories of documents to be held confidential, including certain trade secrets, HIPAA-protected information, and medical records. The case was subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Plaintiff sought to file its Motion for Summary Judgment under seal pursuant to the Confidentiality Stipulation entered by the state court. Plaintiff argued that the motion and related documents, including the memorandum in support and statement of undisputed material facts, were confidential pursuant to the Confidentiality Stipulation. Defendant consented to filing the motion under seal.

The District Court reviewed the documents to be filed under seal and learned that the documents in question were already redacted to conceal sensitive information. Thus, the Court was not convinced that the information needed to be protected under seal. While courts will allow parties to conduct discovery under seal, the bench is reluctant to allow litigation under seal. “There is an acknowledged public interest and thus public right of access to documents filed in conjunction with a dispositive motion in a civil case.”

In light of the questionable need to file the documents under seal and the public interest in access to the motion, the District Court deferred ruling on the request and granted the parties an additional two weeks within which they were to provide additional justification for the need to seal the documents.