A Porter County court erred in merging the issue of confidentiality for purposes of discovery with the issue of restricting public access to materials filed in court, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. It ordered a hearing at which a man involved in a lawsuit with his brother must prove why portions of his deposition should be restricted from public access under Administrative Rule 9.
In Constantinos P. Angelopoulos v. Theodore P. Angelopoulos, Neptunia Incorporated, Transmar Corporation, Didiac Establishment, Beta Steel Corporation, and Top Gun Investment Corporation, II., 64A04-1211-PL-594, Constantinos Angelopoulos turned to the Porter Superior Court in 2011 after the Greek courts held he is not entitled to a portion of the shares of Beta Steel Corp. as an heir under his late father’s estate. The Greek courts found his brother Theodore Angelopoulos to be the sole owner of Beta Steel, which has its main facility in Portage.
“By the clear language of the Greek court decision, Constantinos’s inheritance action resolved the issue of whether Panayiotis transferred ownership of the shares of Beta Steel to Theodore while Panayiotis was still alive or whether these shares were part of Panayiotis’s estate to which Constantinos is entitled to a share as Panayiotis’s heir. The Greek courts clearly rejected Constantinos’s claim on its merits. Pursuant to the doctrines of both comity and res judicata, Constantinos cannot now relitigate this issue in Indiana courts,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote.
The judges did order more proceedings on whether certain portions of Theodore Angelopoulos’ depositions should remain confidential. During litigation in Indiana, the trial court approved a protective order that some of the documents subject to discovery would contain trade secrets or other information that should remain confidential. Theodore Angelopoulos wants his depositions to remain confidential because he fears his brother will use the information in it in any future action he files in Greek court.
“Theodore claims that the deposition materials should have remained confidential because the trial court had already approved of the agreed-to protective order, which he claims would qualify as excludable from public access under Rule 9(G)(1)(c). Our supreme court implicitly disagreed with this position in Travelers, where despite a similar protective order, the court made no indication that this would constitute a specific court order for purposes of Rule 9(G)(1)(c),” Mathias continued. The trial court incorrectly presumed that the exclusion of the materials in question was “automatic” because of its earlier protective order, the court held.