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Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court

Robert Timothy Reagan, Shannon R. Wheatman, Marie Leary, Natacha Blain, Steven S. Gensler, George W. Cort, D. Dean P. Miletich
May 19, 2004
In Print: Available for Distribution

An examination of 288,846 federal district court cases revealed 1,270 cases that appeared to have sealed settlement agreements, for a sealed settlement rate of less than one half of one percent. In 97% of the cases with sealed settlements the complaint was not under seal. This research was conducted at the request of the Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. Although the practice of confidential settlement agreements is common, the question was how often and under what circumstances are such agreements filed under seal.

The report's appendices include a compilation of federal district court rules concerning sealed court documents and descriptions of the cases that appeared to have sealed settlement agreements.

For earlier unpublished research which included a compilation of both federal and state rules concerning sealed court documents, see Sealed Settlement Agreements in Federal District Court - May 2003 Progress Report.