United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
WESLEY BURRESS, in his Individual Capacity and as Trustee of the Wesley Burress Trust Dated November 1, 2006, Plaintiff,
JULIE BUESING, BUTCH BUESING, Defendants. Counter Claimant,
WESLEY BURRESS, in his Individual Capacity and as Trustee of the Wesley Burress Trust Dated November 1, 2006, Counter Defendant.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the Court on the Parties' Joint
Motion to Enter Stipulated Protective Order (Dkt. 55). The
Motion has been referred to the Undersigned for a ruling. For
the reasons discussed below, the Parties' Motion is
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), litigants are
permitted to seek protective orders to guard against public
disclosure of relevant and discoverable material. Courts have
a duty, however, to ensure that all proposed protective
orders strike a proper balance between the public's
interest in accessing non-confidential information and the
parties' interest in maintaining confidentiality with
regard to materials unsuited for public disclosure.
Citizens First Nat. Bank of Princeton v. Cincinnati Ins.
Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999). Here, the Parties
maintain that this procedural device is necessary to protect
the confidentiality of particularly sensitive information.
Before issuing the requested protective order, the Court must
independently determine whether “good cause”
exists to issue the order. Pierson v. Indianapolis Power
& Light Co., 205 F.R.D. 646, 647 (S.D. Ind. 2002);
see also, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1)(G);
Citizens, 178 F.3d at 944-45. A finding of good
cause must be based on a particular factual demonstration of
potential harm, not on conclusory statements. 8 Charles Alan
Wright, Arthur R. Miller, & Richard L. Marcus,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2035,
at 483-86 (2d ed. 1994). Without this independent
determination of good cause, the Court is essentially giving
the parties carte blanche to seal or
protect whatever information they desire. See Hamilton v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 204 F.R.D. 420,
422 (S.D. Ind. 2001) (citing Citizens 178 F.3d at
reviewing a proposed protective order this Court must ensure
(1) the information sought to be protected falls within a
legitimate category of confidential information, (2) the
information or category sought to be protected is properly
described or demarcated, (3) the parties know the defining
elements of the applicable category of confidentiality and
will act in good faith in deciding which information
qualifies thereunder, and (4) the protective order explicitly
allows any party and any interested member of the public to
challenge the sealing of particular documents.
Pierson, 205 F.R.D. at 647 (citing
Citizens, 178 F.3d at 946); see also Brown v.
Automotive Components Holdings, LLC., No.
1:06-cv-1802-RLY-TAB, 2008 WL 2477588 (S.D. Ind. June 17,
2008). The Court's evaluation of a proposed protective
order need not be made on a document-by-document basis, if
the Court is able to determine from the language of the
proposed order that the parties know which category of
information is legitimately confidential and that the parties
are acting in good faith in deciding which documents should
be protected. Citizens, 178 F.3d at 946. Using
qualifiers such as “private, ”
“confidential, ” or “proprietary” to
describe the protected information, without more description,
fails to assure the Court that the parties will be making
good faith and accurate designations of information.”
Pierson, 205 F.R.D. at 647.
Parties' proposed protective order fails to satisfy the
first and second prongs of the above standard. The parties
have defined the scope of the protective order to include
“personal financial and non-financial information,
non-public and confidential business information, and other
financial data.” [Dkt. 55-1 at 1.] These descriptions
are too vague and do not meet the standard set out in
Citizens. Personal financial and non-financial
records, without more, are not categories of confidential
information. See Pierson, 205 F.R.D. at 647.
Additionally, this Court has held that parties cannot protect
information just by adding qualifiers, such as
“non-public” or “confidential.”
See Id. Finally, the description of “other
financial data” is too vague and would amount to
“an impermissible carte blanche discretion by
the parties.” Id. at 647-48.
parties have not satisfied the requirements of
Citizens, and, therefore, the Court
DENIES the Parties' Joint Motion to
Enter Stipulated Protective Order. The Parties may file
another protective order for the Court's consideration
that meets the requirements of Citizens.
 Although pretrial discovery is usually
conducted in private, the Seventh Circuit has endorsed a
presumption of public access to discovery materials.
See, Felling v. Knight, IP 01-0571-C-T/K,
2001 WL 1782360, *2 (S.D. Ind. Dec. ...