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The Medical Protective Co. of Fort Wayne v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

December 1, 2014

THE MEDICAL PROTECTIVE COMPANY OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SPECIALTY LINES INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

Roger B. Cosbey, United States Magistrate Judge

Before the Court is a Joint Motion for Protective Order seeking approval of a proposed Stipulated Protective Order and Non-Waiver Agreement (the “Proposed Order”) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). (Docket # 38.) As the Proposed Order is inadequate in several ways, the motion will be DENIED.

Rule 26(c)(1) allows the Court to enter a protective order for good cause shown. See Citizens First Nat’l Bank of Princeton v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 946 (7th Cir. 1999). But a protective order must extend only to “properly demarcated categor[ies] of legitimately confidential information.” Id.; see MRS Invs. v. Meridian Sports, Inc., No. IP 99-1954-C-F/M, 2002 WL 193140, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 6, 2002) (rejecting proposed protective order because categories of protected information were overly broad and vague); Cook Inc. v. Boston Scientific Corp., 206 F.R.D. 244, 248-49 (S.D. Ind. 2001) (same); Andrew Corp. v. Rossi, 180 F.R.D. 338, 342 (N.D. Ill. 1998) (same). Here, the Proposed Order, which extends beyond the discovery phase of the proceedings (Proposed Order ¶ 9), fails to set forth such properly demarcated categories.

The definition of “Confidential Information” in the Proposed Order is, in relevant part, as follows:

[A]ny document . . . that contains:

a) Nonpublic and confidential information . . . consisting of:
1. proprietary business and operations methods, including policies, procedures and protocols; or
2. personnel and service records and files relating to employees;
b) . . . other competitively or commercially sensitive business, marketing, or sales information, or other confidential or proprietary commercial information;
c) nonpublic financial information;
d) private or confidential personal information . . . .

(Proposed Order ¶ 1.)

Thus, rather than formulating narrow, demarcated categories of legitimately confidential information, the Proposed Order advances a vague, circular definition of “Confidential Information” that relies upon oblique terms such as “confidential, ” “proprietary, ” “business, ” and “commercially sensitive.”[1] Likewise, the term “‘non-public’ is too vague. If it means only that the information is not available to the general public, then it is insufficient because the information must be kept secret from and not readily ascertainable by potential competitors.” Cook, 206 F.R.D. at 248-49.

And “not all information in an employee’s personnel file is considered private.” Little v. Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of Am., Inc., No. 04-1034, 2006 WL 1554317, at *4 (C.D. Ill. June 5, 2006). For example, “there is nothing confidential about an employee’s job title, job description, hiring date, or work assignment and location.” I ...


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