Doctor Can’t Sue Insurance Company for Libel with Libel Sealed

Today’s Judge Jorge Alonso decision is in effect Orrington v. Humanadental Ins. Co.(N.D. Ill.):

Plaintiffs would like to file an amended complaint under seal, because it would be  embarrassing to them to detail the allegations that support plaintiffs’ claim for defamation. It is not enough to file a document with seal.

Litigation in federal courts is presumptively public, and people who “call on the courts … must accept the openness that goes with subsidized dispute resolution.” Union Oil Co. v. Leavell (7th Cir. 2000) (“Many a litigant would prefer that the subject of the case—how much it agreed to pay for the construction of a pipeline, how many tons of coal its plant uses per day, and so on—be kept from the curious (including its business rivals and customers), but the tradition that litigation is open to the public is of very long standing.”). “[O]nly trade secrets, information covered by a recognized privilege (such as the attorney-client privilege), and information required by statute to be maintained in confidence … is entitled to be kept secret.” Baxter Int’l v. Abbott Labs. (7th Cir. 2002)…. [P]The standards for laintiffs were not met by them. BaxterAnd Union Oilthey have been met and their motion to seal the file is denial.

The court has my agreement. Parson v. Farley (N.D. Okla. 2018, and Manhattan Telecommunications Corp. Granite Telecommunications, LLC (Del. Ch. 2020):

The information that is currently being redacted will not be changed, so the public will not have the ability to fully understand the issue. [plaintiff]he has requested the Court to decide. This violates the rights of the public to observe the proceeding and decide.[s]”—a right, again, that “has been characterized as fundamental to a democratic state.” In other words, when “the supposedly-confidential information represents the nature of the dispute itself—the interest of the public in accessing this information outweighs the economic harm to the parties that disclosure may cause.” This is what happens here.

This is the argument of the plaintiffs that was rejected by the court:

This action has its primary basis in a false complaint filed by Defendants with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation regarding Orrington. Orrington would like to keep the Amended Complaint under seal, which contains a limited amount of text about the defamatory claims made by Defendants. Revealing the specific nature of Defendants’ defamatory allegations will likely further spread those baseless allegations that Defendants have unjustifiably asserted against Orrington….

Orrington respectfully agrees with the decision to keep this material.
Unter Segel, da weitere publication der defamatory allegations by Defendants would result in annoyances, embarrassment and oppression as well as undue cost or expense to Orrington. Look! Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); Mimms v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 1:15-cv-00970-TWP-MJD, 2016 WL 11547243, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Jul. Jul.

Also, the Complaint that was supposedly deleted was in fact misredacted. This allowed for people to view the redacted material simply by copying and pasting the text into another document. However, that is irrelevant now that an unredacted amended Complaint filed in compliance with the court order denial of the motion to seal.