By Sam Laurin, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP
The recent decision by the Tax Court of Indiana in ESPN Productions Inc. v. Indiana Department of State Revenue 28 N.E3d 379 (Ind. Tax. Ct. 2015) provides a nice summary of the issues involved when a party seeks to have documents placed under seal. It also provides information about how such a request must be considered in conjunction with Indiana Administrative Rule 9, which was put in place to secure the public’s access to court records.
In this case, ESPN sought to have certain documents placed under seal and followed the requirements of Administrative Rule 9 and requested a hearing that the public can attend. In addition to providing an excellent overview of the issues related to sealing court records, the Tax Court addressed one of the more frequent reason that a party requests that a document be sealed: a party’s contention that the information constitutes a trade secret. In this case, ESPN contended that a Production Services Agreement was a trade secret.
The court began its analysis by noting that under Rule 9 and I.C. § 5-14-3-4, a trade secret is mandatorily exempt from public disclosure. They stated that “of course” the court must do an analysis of whether the document is a trade secret independent of a party’s claim. In the case, the Tax Court held that the Production Services Agreement was in fact a trade secret.
The ESPN decision is a good starting point if you are addressing an issue of a request to seal documents. However, you must also become familiar with Rule 9 and its recent amendments. A discussion of Rule 9 is beyond the scope of this post. For more information, check out the article on the requirements of Rule 9 by Maggie Smith of Frost Brown Todd LLC in theDecember 2014 issue of Res Gestae.
This article was written by Sam Laurin of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Litigation Section page, please email Rachel Beachy at email@example.com.