In an opinion yesterday, Judge Baer unsealed documents relating to a petition to confirm an arbitration award, notwithstanding the parties’ agreement to keep the information confidential, and notwithstanding that the parties settled the dispute before any ruling on the petition. The unsealing order came in response to a motion to intervene from several insurance companies with disputes similar to the one that was the subject of the confidential arbitration. Judge Baer concluded that the fact of a settlement was irrelevant:
Respondents point out that the Court did not render any decisions regarding the confirmation petition or the motion to dismiss. But the Second Circuit has rejected the proposition that “different types of documents might receive different weights of presumption based on the extent to which they were relied upon in resolving the motion.” Lugosch, 435 F.3d at 123. Indeed, “documents that the judge should have considered or relied upon, but did not, are just as deserving of disclosure as those that actually entered into the judge’s decision.” Id. (quoting In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Petroleum Prods. Antitrust Litig., 101 F.R.D. 34, 43 (C.D. Cal. 1984)). Whether the Court decided the petition or the motion to dismiss therefore does not affect the weight of the presumption of access. Having determined the weight of the presumption, “the court must ‘balance competing considerations against [the presumption of access].” Id. at 120 (quoting Amodeo, 71 F.3d at 1050). Those competing considerations include “the danger of impairing . . . judicial efficiency” and “the privacy interests of those resisting disclosure.” Id. Here, both this Court and the District Judge sitting in Part I previously entered orders allowing the parties to file arbitration information under seal because of the parties’ confidentiality agreement. But that agreement is insufficient to demonstrate that sealing is necessary. This Court also noted expressly that by further order, it may open any sealed documents upon notice to the parties. Thus, while Petitioners and Respondent may have relied on those sealing orders to some degree, they were on notice of the possibility of unsealing. Finally, while Respondent argues that disclosure would compromise its position with respect to the separate arbitrations in which it is engaged with Movants, courts have declined to shield judicial documents in the face of such risks.