Judge Denies Request to Conceal Testimony

In a month of contentious legal wrangling that has seen 24 documents (motions, responses, orders etc.) filed this far, the judge in the Allstate vs Auto Glass America (AGA)* lawsuit and its counter suit ruled today upon an item both sides had focused on intently.

Judge Leslie Hoffman, a U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Florida, denied a motion by Allstate that its Daubert and Summary Judgement motions be filed under seal. A Daubert motion is a type of motion that seeks to exclude a proposed expert or an expert’s testimony. A motion for summary judgement typically asks the judge to rule on the merits of at least one part of the claim without benefit of trial. It is often used to ask a judge for dismissal of all or part of a suit.

Allstate had requested that its forthcoming Daubert and dispositive summary judgements, which are scheduled to be filed by November 2, be put under seal. Putting them under seal means they would remain confidential. Allstate cited a confidentiality agreement between both sides that would keep such filings and testimony private.

Judge Hoffman said that Allstate is seeking to file under seal because those motions will extensively reference the expert reports as well as deposition testimony from both sides and their witnesses. “The plaintiffs point to a multitude of cases by AGA against plaintiffs in small claims courts, suggesting that any information obtained in this manner AGA will use against plaintiffs in those cases,” wrote Judge Hoffman.

The Judge, however was unconvinced such cloaking was necessary, saying the Allstate’s explanation of how the information contained in the expert reports qualifies for confidential treatment falls “woefully short.” She denied the motion.

She cited the case of Alvey v. Gualtieri in her order. “Although there is no common law right to obtain discovery material, a party that submits documents in connection with a motion for summary judgement puts the information into the public domain and triggers greater public right of access.”

*Note: Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company (collectively Allstate). They, as well as Auto Glass America and Charles Isaly (known as AGA) are all represented by outside counsel.

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