Today, Judge Rakoff rejected an attempt by the parties in the Petrobras securities litigation (see our prior coverage here) to keep parts of the settlement agreement in that case out of the public record. Judge Rakoff had previously rebuffed the parties’ request to keep parts of the settlement agreement confidential, and the parties had renewed their request in a letter to the court attaching the documents at issue. Judge Rakoff denied this request as well, and then on his own filed the documents on the court’s public docket:
From Sykes-Picot to Iran-Contra, secret agreements always have their apologists, but they rarely serve the public interest . . . . There is a certain irony in counsel for plaintiffs – who have premised their claim of fraud on defendants’ alleged failure to disclose material information – seeking to keep secret three agreements that are a material part of the settlement. While plaintiffs’ counsel states that the Court has sometimes approved such sealing in past cases, the issue was never squarely raised; and, in any event, the Court is now convinced that the parties’ and their counsels’ strategic concerns should play no role in the Court’s determination of whether or not such documents should be sealed. Rather, the Court should be guided by the basic principle that all material parts of a proposed class action settlement should be available for public review and comment. Accordingly, the Court attaches to this Memorandum Order the three documents in issue and directs the Clerk of the Court to forthwith docket this Memorandum Order and the three attachments.