Schroers v. Prompt Medical Transportation, Inc. et al
ORDER granting 34 Motion File Settlement Agreement In-Camera. Signed by Magistrate Judge Paul R Cherry on 10/13/2016. (smb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STEVEN SCHROERS, on behalf of himself
and all other similarly situated employees,
known and unknown,
PROMPT MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION, INC. )
d/b/a Prompt Ambulance Service and Indiana
EMS, GARY MILLER, SHAR MILLER, and
Cause No.: 2:15-CV-153-PRC
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Unopposed Motion to Present the Settlement
Agreement In Camera [DE 34], filed by the parties on October 12, 2016. This case was brought by
Plaintiff on April 17, 2015, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for unpaid wages.
Significant discovery occurred, and briefing on a motion for conditional certification occurred in the
related case of Cross v. Prompt Medical Transportation, Cause No. 2:15-CV-58. After the motion
in Cross v. Prompt Medical Transportation was fully briefed, the parties began extensive settlement
negotiations. During the settlement negotiations, the parties agreed to the confidentiality of the
settlement amounts to be paid to Plaintiffs and their counsel. This is a negotiated term that is critical
to the resolution of the case. The parties therefore ask that they be allowed to file the settlement
agreement under seal.
Northern District of Indiana Local Rule 5-3 provides that “[n]o document will be maintained
under seal in the absence of an authorizing statute, Court rule, or Court order.” N.D. Ind. L.R. 5-3(a).
The general presumption is that judicial records are public, but this can be overridden when “the
property and privacy interests of the litigants . . . predominate in the particular case.” Citizens First
Nat’l Bank v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999). The bar is quite high: “[a]ny
step that withdraws an element of the judicial process from public view makes the ensuing decision
look more like fiat and requires rigorous justification” by the Court. Hicklin Eng’g, L.C. v. Bartell,
439 F.3d 346, 348 (7th Cir. 2006). A motion to file documents under seal must justify the claim of
secrecy, analyzing the applicable legal criteria. See Citizens First, 178 F.3d at 945. Further, and
notwithstanding the parties’ agreement, the decision of whether good cause exists to file a document
under seal rests solely with the Court. Id. (“The determination of good cause cannot be elided by
allowing the parties to seal whatever they want, for then the interest in publicity will go unprotected
unless the media are interested in the case and move to unseal.”).
The Court finds that the parties have shown good cause for filing the settlement agreement
under seal. In order to settle this FLSA action by way of a settlement agreement, the parties have
no choice but to seek the approval of the Court, which is a public proceeding. The parties do not
have the option, as litigants do in most non-FLSA cases, to execute a private, confidential settlement
agreement and then file a stipulation of dismissal. Yet assuring confidentiality is a key and material
party of these settlement agreements. Swarthout v. Ryla Teleservices, Inc., No. 4:11CV21PRC, 2012
WL 5361756, at *3 (N.D. Ind. Oct. 30, 2012) (citing Perry v. Nat’l City, 05-CV-891-DRH, 2008
WL 427771, *1 (S.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2008)).
Accordingly, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants’ Unopposed Motion to Present the
Settlement Agreement In Camera [DE 34]. The Court ORDERS that the parties are granted leave
to file the settlement agreement under seal in this case.
SO ORDERED this 13th day of October, 2016.
s/ Paul R. Cherry
MAGISTRATE JUDGE PAUL R. CHERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?