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High court overturns confidentiality order

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The Indiana Supreme Court today overturned a Marion Superior Court's approval of a "Confidentiality Stipulation and Order," clearing the way for hundreds of documents to be opened and available for public inspection.

Marion Superior Court originally granted the parties' request to seal documents in the litigation of Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., et al. v. United States Filter Corp. n/k/a Water Applications & Systems Corp., et al. No. 49A02-0604-CV-289, which is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court. The case involves insurance coverage for bodily injury claims caused by exposure to silica.

The high court ordered the parties in August to show cause as to why the documents in this case should be confidential. The original stipulation cited the parties agreed the discovery and disclosure of privileged, confidential, or sensitive information may come up in litigation.

The Supreme Court vacated the confidentiality order today because the parties didn't offer any particularized arguments as to why Indiana Administrative Rule 9(H) would have allowed the trial court to exclude documents it tendered. Under this rule, a public hearing must be conducted before the trial court can grant an exclusion of documents from public access, which didn't happen in this case, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.

Waste Applications cited Richey v. Chappell, 594 N.E.2d 443 (Ind. 1992) to justify the confidentiality order, arguing some documents should be excluded from public access by virtue of "insurer-insured privilege" and documents submitted are excluded from public view by Administrative Rule 9(G)(1)(b).

But the protections recognized under that rule by itself do not exclude documents submitted to a court from public access because the mechanism to seek to exclude information by a specific court order appears in Rule 9(H), which requires a public hearing, wrote the chief justice.

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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