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Western District Remains Strict in Considering Stipulated Protective Orders

When it comes to protective orders, Seattle courts are stricter than most.  As previously noted, this includes the Western District. On April 7, Western District Judge Benjamin Settle illustrated this bent when he denied the parties’ stipulated protective order in the trademark infringement case of American Automobile Association v. AAA Insurance Inc. on the ground the proposed order went too far in limiting public access to court records. (Previous STL coverage of the case here.)

The court explained: “The parties request an expansive protective order for all ‘confidential information’ that may be disclosed during the discovery phase of this proceeding. The parties have agreed to mark as ‘confidential’ all material ‘that contain[s] or embod[ies] proprietary, commercial, financial, or otherwise confidential information….’ The parties dictate a procedure for the disclosure of designated material. Finally, the parties ‘agree to be bound by [the proposed order’s] terms as of the date first submitted to the Court for execution.’

“The Court need not enter the proposed order as an order of the Court because the proposed order contains provisions that are more appropriate for an agreement between the parties instead of an expansive protective order and the attorneys for both parties have executed the agreement. Moreover, the parties have already been ordered to redact dates of birth, social security numbers, and financial accounting information pursuant to the General Order of the court regarding Public Access to Electronic Case Files. If a party chooses to submit confidential documents with the Court, the party may file a motion to seal the material pursuant to Local Rule CR 5(g) and note the motion according to Local Rule CR 7(d)(2). ‘The law requires, and the motion and the proposed order shall include, a clear statement of the facts justifying a seal and overcoming the strong presumption in favor of public access.’ Local Rule CR 5(g)(2); see also Valley Broadcasting Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for Dist. of Nevada, 798 F.2d 1289 (9th Cir. 1986). If the party that chooses to submit the material is not the party that designated the material ‘confidential,’ it may state so in the motion to seal and, in response, the designating party may articulate facts in support of sealing the submitted material.”

The case cite is American Automobile Association v. AAA Insurance Inc., No. 08-5515 (W.D. Wash. April 7, 2009) (Settle, J.).

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