No Sealing Case / Pseudonymity in #TheyLied Libel Lawsuit:
From yesterdays decision by Magistrate Sanket J. Bulsara (E.D.N.Y.) in Roe v. Does:
In this action against unnamed and unknown defendants, John Does 1–11 …, Richard Roe … moves to proceed under a pseudonym or, in the alternative, to seal the case. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff’s motion is denied….
Plaintiff is an individual residing in Brooklyn, New York. He “is an executive coach, consultant, entrepreneur[,] and non-profit director who primarily” works from his residence. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have “conducted a systematic campaign of anonymously contacting” professional organizations with which Plaintiff is involved to report instances of sexual harassment and assault by Plaintiff or to divulge similar allegations concerning Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that he was terminated or dissociated from such organizations, and lost “substantial” income, as a result of Defendants’ conduct.
On August 19, 2020, Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants John Does 1–11, whom Plaintiff believes are not residents of New York but about whom he has “limited identifying information.” Plaintiff seeks compensatory, special, and punitive damages for defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; a retraction of all allegations made against him; and costs of the suit….
The court notes that there is a strong presumption in American law that lawsuits are to be litigated in public, with the parties identified; sealing and pseudonymity are fairly rare exceptions (especially in federal court). In the Second Circuit, courts considering pseudonymity requests are asked to consider these factors:
- “whether the litigation involves matters that are highly sensitive and [of a] personal nature”;
- “whether identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm to the … party [seeking to proceed anonymously] or even more critically, to innocent non-parties”;
- “whether identification presents other harms and the likely severity of those harms, including whether the injury litigated against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff’s identity”;
- “whether the plaintiff is particularly vulnerable to the possible harms of disclosure, particularly in light of his age”;
- “whether the suit is challenging the actions of the government or that of private parties”;
- “whether the defendant is prejudiced by allowing the plaintiff to press his claims anonymously, whether the nature of that prejudice (if any) differs at any particular stage of the litigation, and whether any prejudice can be mitigated by the district court”;
- “whether the plaintiff’s identity has thus far been kept confidential”;
- “whether the public’s interest in the litigation is furthered by requiring the plaintiff to disclose his identity”;
- “whether, because of the purely legal nature of the issues presented or otherwise, there is an atypically weak public interest in knowing the litigants’ identities; and”
- “whether there are any alternative mechanisms for protecting the confidentiality of the plaintiff.”
The court goes through the factors one by one, but here are the key points that I think
Article from Latest – Reason.com