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Court upholds unsealing order against parties' wishes

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Court upholds unsealing order against parties’ wishes

  • The details of a settlement agreement in a sexual discrimination case were ordered released by a federal appellate court despite a confidentiality agreement by the parties to the suit.

Aug. 5, 2004 — Despite the existence of an agreement to keep a sex discrimination settlement involving Deutsche Bank confidential, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City (2nd Cir.) upheld an order to unseal documents in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. in New York City issued the order to unseal the documents after the parties filed to dismiss the suit. Deutsche Bank appealed, arguing that Baer lacked jurisdiction to issue the order after the dismissal request was filed, according to court records.

The appeals panel disagreed, and sent the case back to the district court to ensure redaction of confidential information, including the amount of the settlement. The panel held that Deutsche Bank had not proved that the court record should be sealed in its entirety, but said the settlement amount would not be released. The court noted that the bank told the judge the settlement amount under “what it may well have thought were assurances of confidentiality.”

The appeals court also appointed an attorney to represent the interest of disclosure in district court.

In June 2002, Virginia Gambale, a former managing director at Deutsche Bank, brought suit alleging that the company discriminated against her due to her sex and then retaliated against her for complaining about it. The parties reached a settlement in May 2003 and disclosed the settlement amount to the court with the understanding that it was confidential. However, on July 2, 2003, the court issued its order to open the records.

Gambale did not have a role in the appeal, according to her attorney, Debra L. Raskin. Both Baer and counsel for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

(Gambale v. Deutsche Bank) CZ

© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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