United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
C. BUCKLEW United States District Judge.
cause comes before the Court on Non-Party Todd Bennett's
motion to unseal the settlement agreement. (Doc. No. 876).
While Defendants do not appear to oppose the motion,
Plaintiffs have filed a response in opposition (Doc. No.
886). Both Plaintiff and Bennett have filed supplemental
briefs at the Court's request. (Doc. No. 891, 894). As
explained below, Bennett's motion to unseal the
settlement agreement is granted.
April 13, 2015, after several days of trial, Plaintiffs and
Defendants entered into a settlement agreement wherein the
Court agreed to retain jurisdiction for two years. (Doc. No.
S-770). The settlement agreement provided for a specific
dispute resolution process/protocol relating to disputes that
might arise during those two years relating to the settlement
agreement. The parties requested that the settlement
agreement be filed under seal, and on April 13, 2015, the
Court ordered that the settlement agreement be filed under
seal. (Doc. No. 771).
Court retained jurisdiction over disputes related to the
settlement agreement through April 13, 2017. (Doc. No. 804).
That two-year period has expired, and the Court no longer has
jurisdiction over the enforcement of the settlement
Motion to Unseal Settlement Agreement
moves to unseal the settlement agreement entered into by
Plaintiffs and Defendants. Plaintiffs argue that the
settlement agreement should remain under seal, because the
parties agreed to its confidentiality and Plaintiffs contend
that it “contains sensitive and proprietary information
regarding the subject matter of the underlying
litigation.” (Doc. No. 891, p. 1).
Rule 1.09(a) also provides the following with regard to the
sealing of settlement agreements: “No settlement
agreement shall be sealed absent extraordinary circumstances,
such as the preservation of national security, protection of
trade secrets or other valuable proprietary information,
protection of especially vulnerable persons including minors
or persons with disabilities, or protection of nonparties
without either the opportunity or ability to protect
themselves.” The Court directed the parties to provide
supplemental briefing on the issue of whether extraordinary
circumstances exist that warrant the continued sealing of the
settlement agreement. The Court required this information in
order to balance the competing interests of Plaintiffs and
Bennett. See Chicago Tribune Co. v.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1312 (11th
argue that extraordinary circumstances exist, because
unsealing the settlement agreement would “[r]eveal
that Plaintiffs' sensitive materials must be returned
[which] implies that they were wrongfully taken in the first
place, and public access [to the settlement agreement] would
therefore carry competitive and reputational risk,
particularly in the highly competitive healthcare data
processing industry.” (Doc. No. 891, p. 2). Plaintiffs
further contend that “[t]hey are in a competitive
healthcare data processing marketplace, and their success
lies primarily on their unique and proprietary intellectual
property, and their ability to protect that property. They
receive highly confidential and unique data from customers
that is processed through Plaintiffs' proprietary
enrichment process.” (Doc. No. 891, p. 3). The Court
rejects the argument that there are extraordinary
circumstances that warrant the continued sealing of the
“highly confidential” data that Plaintiffs
receive from their healthcare customers relates to the
supplies that these customers purchase; there is no exchange
of confidential patient information that would need to be
kept confidential. Furthermore, any of Plaintiffs'
customers that looked at the public filings in this case
would be able to discern that Plaintiffs contend that its
confidential materials were taken and that they entered into
a settlement agreement regarding the materials with
Defendants. Thus, keeping the settlement agreement under seal
will not prevent the ability of Plaintiffs' customers to
discern Plaintiffs' belief that Defendants took their
Plaintiffs failure to show that extraordinary circumstances
exist that warrant the continued sealing of the settlement
agreement, the Court finds that the balance no longer weighs
in favor of sealing. At best, Plaintiffs' interests in
keeping the settlement agreement under seal are no greater
than Bennett's interests in having access to the
settlement agreement. Accordingly, the Court finds that
continued sealing of the settlement agreement is not
it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:
Bennett's motion to unseal the settlement agreement (Doc.
No. 876) is GRANTED
Clerk is directed to unseal the settlement agreement, which