Alert: Take Action Now - Oppose SB5054, Anti-Protective Orders Legislation
Feb 14, 2012
We are encouraging you to take action now to oppose SB. 5054, an anti-protective orders bill that come up for a vote on the floor of the Washington State Senate at any time.
Take Action Now – Oppose SB 5054, Anti-Protective Orders Legislation
We are encouraging you to take action now to oppose SB. 5054, an anti-protective orders bill that come up for a vote on the floor of the Washington State Senate at any time. The bill, also known as “an act relating to legal proceedings involving public hazards,” was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee due to the loss of one Republican legislator, who joined the Democrats to pass the bill. No companion bill yet exists in the House. Please contact key members of the Washington State Senate and urge them to oppose this anti-protective orders legislation, if you have not already done so. Talking points, contact information and additional resources are listed toward the bottom of this message.
Current law is a result of a bill created by then-Gov. Lowry’s panel of legal experts, including law professors. The law was carefully crafted—and adopted by nearly every member of the legislature—to protect proprietary information while balancing the public’s right to information.
For many years, legislation like SB5054 has been successfully bottled up in committee in Washington state, but this year’s loss of a key vote on Judiciary Committee makes the bill more threatening. LCJ was instrumental in the passage of the current law, which occurred back in 1994, but in recent years the plaintiffs’ bar has made repeated efforts to pass legislation that imposes more restrictions on judges to seal settlements.
THERE IS NO NEED TO PASS SB5054
· This bill would limit the effectiveness of confidentiality agreements. Efforts to pass such legislation in other states have repeatedly failed because it is unnecessary, costly, unwise, and contrary to the public interest.
PROTECTIVE ORDERS ARE ESSENTIAL TO PROTECT PRIVACY AND PROPERTY
· Many civil cases use protective and sealing orders to keep discovery materials exchanged in civil litigation confidential between the parties, and use confidential settlement agreements to keep information disclosed during a case confidential after disposition as often required by law. The U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Rules recognize that protective orders are appropriate in many cases, and that there is no public right of public access to such materials.
INTENSE REGULATORY OVERSIGHT ADEQUATELY PROTECTS PUBLIC SAFETY
· One of the reasons why so many observers have concluded that there is no compelling need to restrict the issuance of confidentiality orders is the many layers of regulation under which businesses operate. Layers and layers of state and federal agencies already regulate numerous industries and have the right to demand any documents purportedly related to a health or safety issue — assuming the defendant was not already under an obligation to affirmatively provide the material to the regulator.
PROTECTIVE AND SEALING ORDERS LUBRICATE THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE
· They allow litigants to respond to extraordinarily broad discovery requests by ensuring the confidentiality of valuable information produced in discovery. Placing severe restrictions on the availability of protective and sealing orders will deprive litigants of the privacy and property rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution. Fear that intensely personal information cannot be kept confidential in litigation would have a chilling effect, not only on discovery and settlements, but on the commencement and defense of claims. And, it would have serious adverse consequences for our entire civil litigation system by burdening and delaying the disposition of cases.
CONTACT KEY LEGISLATORS
Below is a list of Senators were are working for a “no” vote. Any help you could lend with them would be appreciated.
For more information, contact:
Dana Childers Bieber
Washington Liability Reform Coalition
LINKS TO ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
IN OPPOSITION TO ANTI-PROTECTIVE ORDERS BILL Washington State SB 5054
· SB 5054 Amendment – Senator Carrell
· SB5054 Senate Bill Report
· Video: Jan 24, 2012 Senate Judiciary at 10:00 am