Perkins v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 32 Hartford's Motion for Leave to File Under Seal. Hartford shall file its motion for leave to file a sur-reply by August 21, 2012. Plaintiff shall file any response to the motion by August 24, 2012. See Order for details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen M. Humphreys on 8/17/2012. (vs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
THE HARTFORD LIFE AND ACCIDENT )
INSURANCE COMPANY, et al.,
Case No. 11-2557-KHV
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This ERISA-benefits dispute is before the court on Hartford’s motion for leave to file
certain documents under seal. (Doc. 32). Specifically, Hartford seeks leave to file under
1. its proposed sur-reply brief;
2. a chart showing the amount paid to University Disability Consortium;
3. a contract for independent medical consulting services; and
4. templates for performance appraisals of certain Hartford employees.
Hartford argues that these documents contain “confidential, personal, sensitive, proprietary,
trade secret, commercial, financial, and/or business information” and that the disclosure of
the information “may result in substantial economic or personal harm to the parties or nonparty individuals.” The documents have also been designated as CONFIDENTIAL by
Hartford pursuant to the protective order in this case. (Doc. 31). For the reasons set forth
below, the motion shall be DENIED.
The public has a fundamental interest in understanding disputes that are presented to
the court for resolution. Crystal Grower’s Corp. v. Dobbins. 616 F.2d 458, 461 (10th Cir.
1980). Accordingly, any motion to seal must establish that the reasons for sealing court
records outweigh the public interest in access to the documents. Id., See also Nixon v.
Warner Communications Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 599 (1978). To establish good cause for sealing
court records, a moving party must submit particular and specific facts and not merely
“stereotyped and conclusory statements.” See Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard, 452 U.S. 89, 102 n.
Hartford’s motion contains only “conclusory statements” and does not suggest why
the information, if disclosed, would be harmful to any party. Equally important, the
documents reveal the relationship between Hartford and the company that provides medical
reviews of individuals seeking ERISA disability benefits.
Public disclosure of the
relationship between Hartford and the company that provides medical reviews will arguably
lessen future discovery disputes concerning medical reviews conducted by “independent”
medical providers.1 Under the circumstances, the court denies the motion to seal documents.
The law concerning discovery in ERISA cases continues to evolve and, contrary to
Hartford’s suggestions, is not well settled. Anecdotally, the overwhelming majority of
such cases assigned to the undersigned judge require some judicial resolution of
discovery disputes. As in this case, a frequent issue is the relationship between the plan
administrator/insurance company and its retained medical consultants— information that
is generally unavailable to plaintiffs except through formal discovery requests.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Hartford’s motion for leave to file documents
under seal (Doc. 32) is DENIED. Hartford shall file its motion for leave to file a sur-reply
by August 21, 2012. Plaintiff shall file any response to the motion by August 24, 2012.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated at Wichita, Kansas this 17th day of August 2012.
S/ Karen M. Humphreys
KAREN M. HUMPHREYS
United States Magistrate Judge
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?