United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
BRADLEY PRATER, on Behalf of Himself and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
WEBER TRUCKING COMPANY, INC., JEFF WEBER, Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge Southern District of
matter comes before the Court on the Parties' Joint
Motion for Entry of Protective Order (Dkt. 21). The Motion
has been referred to the Undersigned for ruling.
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, Citizens, 178
F.3d at 944-45; see also, Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(G).
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
essentially gives 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 945).
When reviewing a proposed protective order this Court must
(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.
Auto. 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 seek to protect four categories of information:
A. Non-public business records the disclosure of which could
result in competitive or economic harm to Defendants (and/or
any entities related to a party), non-parties, or invade the
privacy of individuals;
B. Business or individual financial records, tax records, or
personal non-public information, the disclosure of which
could result in competitive or economic harm to Plaintiff or
Defendants or invade the privacy of individuals;
C. Information related to Defendants' vendors, customers,
members, service providers, research, sales, marketing,
finances, management, employees, business operations, costs,
prices, trade secrets, and other sensitive or proprietary
D. Personnel and employee files which may include payroll,
compensation, benefit information, performance evaluations,
and/or medical information.
[Dkt. 21-1 at 2-3.] The Court finds that there is good cause
to GRANT IN PART the Parties' proposed
protective order. The proposed protective order fails, in
part, to satisfy the second prong of the above standard.
the Parties properly define each category as confidential
information. The public has no interest in this type of
information. Second, the Parties have adequately described
the scope of some of the documents they seek to protect.
Business, financial, or economic records; personnel and
employee files; and information related to the
Defendants' business are adequately demarcated. The Court
does, however, find that the request to protect “other
sensitive or proprietary information” is too ...