Sunshine in Litigation Act Reintroduced

ADR Prof Blog by Andrea Schneider, Michael Moffitt, Sarah Cole,Art Hinshaw, Jill Gross and Cynthia Alkon.

From this morning’s National Law Journal: Federal lawmakers have renewed legislation that would require judges to consider the public’s interest before agreeing to seal court records about products liability lawsuits with companies. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the Sunshine in Litigation Act of 2014 in the Senate this month. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced a similar bill in the House in April.

The “sunshine” imagery is, of course, complicated. Exactly nobody involved in litigation would describe it as “sunshiny” in the “great to wake up and realize I’m basking in” sense. And my pre-coffee read of the article had me misunderstanding things in this way. It is, instead, about the circumstances under which courts would be permitted to maintain certain records and settlements under seal.

On quick skim, the presumption against protective orders and the public health/safety information sharing pieces look familiar. I see in the sponsors’ public statement that they also seek to

Increasing the efficiency of courts. Where the legislation requires disclosure, the information learned will be shared among those with similar cases, increasing court efficiency by avoiding duplication of discovery battles in every new case.
I don’t know what that looks like, and so I’ll be interested to watch that.

                        author

Michael Moffitt

Michael Moffitt is the Dean for University of Oregon School of Law, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law, and Associate Director, ADR Center.  Before joining the Oregon law faculty in 2001, Michael Moffitt served as the clinical supervisor for the mediation program at Harvard Law School and taught negotiation at… MORE >

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