ILNews

High court overturns confidentiality order

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

ADVERTISEMENT