24 F.3d 893 (7th Cir. 1994), 92-4038, Grove Fresh Distributors, Inc. v. Everfresh Juice Co.

Docket Nº:92-4038, 93-2438.
Citation:24 F.3d 893
Party Name:GROVE FRESH DISTRIBUTORS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EVERFRESH JUICE COMPANY and Hugo Powell, Defendants-Appellees. GROVE FRESH DISTRIBUTORS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOHN LABATT LIMITED, A Canadian Corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellees. Appeal of AD HOC COALITION OF IN DEPTH JOURNALISTS, Intervenor-Appellant. GROVE FRESH
Case Date:May 12, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 893

24 F.3d 893 (7th Cir. 1994)

GROVE FRESH DISTRIBUTORS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

EVERFRESH JUICE COMPANY and Hugo Powell, Defendants-Appellees.

GROVE FRESH DISTRIBUTORS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

JOHN LABATT LIMITED, A Canadian Corporation, et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal of AD HOC COALITION OF IN DEPTH JOURNALISTS,

Intervenor-Appellant.

GROVE FRESH DISTRIBUTORS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff,

v.

EVERFRESH JUICE COMPANY and Hugo Powell, Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal of Leslie DONLEY, Barry Shore, Sybil Shore, et al.,

Intervenors-Appellants.

Nos. 92-4038, 93-2438.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 12, 1994

Argued Jan. 14, 1994.

Page 894

Dale R. Crider, Warren S. Radler, Rivkin, Radler & Kremer, John P. Messina, Chicago, IL, for plaintiff-appellee.

Jeffrey E. Stone, Bruce H. Weitzman, David J. Stetler, Lazar Pol Raynal (argued), McDermott, Will & Emery, Chicago, IL, for Everfresh Juice Co., Hugo Powell, John Labatt Ltd.

Daniel G. Litchfield, Steven M. Kowal, Burditt & Radzius, Chicago, IL, for American Citrus Products Corp., Henry Lang.

John S. Elson, Karen Taylor, Jack Doppelt, Chicago, IL, Mindy S. Trossman, Evanston, IL, for Ad Hoc Coalition of In Depth Journalists.

Kristi L. Browne, Lawrence Walner (argued), Julie L. Murphy, Robert J. Walner, Walner & Associates, Chicago, IL, for Leslie Donley, Barry Shore, Sybil Shore, Don Shifris, Lorraine Wallace, Thomas Scorzo, Pat Gordon, Catherine Thomas, Sam Gordon, Michele Chroman, Melissa Chroman.

Page 895

Before BAUER, COFFEY, and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges.

BAUER, Circuit Judge.

This appeal requires us to determine the rights of third parties who wish to intervene in pending litigation for the limited purpose of obtaining access to documents which have been shielded from public scrutiny either by seal or by a protective order. At the heart of this dispute are a pair of lawsuits filed by Grove Fresh Distributors, Inc. against various of its competing orange juice manufacturers. The lawsuits are based on allegations that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to unlawfully adulterate and misbrand orange juice in violation of federal unfair competition laws, Food and Drug Administration regulations, and the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute (RICO). 18 U.S.C. Secs. 1961 et seq. In the first of these cases, filed in 1989 (the " '89 case"), the district court issued a protective order limiting Grove Fresh's ability to disclose information obtained from the defendants by virtue of the discovery process which the defendants classified as confidential. In a subsequent lawsuit involving similar claims, filed in 1990 (the " '90 case"), the district court sealed the entire court file.

Two different sets of intervenors requested leave to intervene in the cases for the purposes of modifying the protective order in the '89 case and vacating the seal in the '90 case. The first group of intervenors are plaintiffs in a separate group of class action cases. Also citing unlawful adulteration and labelling practices, these intervenors ("Consumers") are suing many of the same orange juice manufacturers for consumer fraud and breach of warranty. The Consumers wish to spare the time and expense of a separate pre-trial discovery process by obtaining access to the discovery produced in the Grove Fresh cases. They believe that due to the factual similarity between their case and the Grove Fresh cases, much of the relevant material will be the same. The trial court rejected the Consumers' motion to intervene because the court believed that they lacked standing and that they would not suffer any prejudice from the denial.

The second group of intervenors, The Ad Hoc Coalition of In-depth Journalists ("Coalition") represent a group of professional journalists. Their attempt to vacate the seal in the '90 case and modify the protective order in the '89 case was denied by the district court on November 20, 1992. In its opinion, the court recognized that the Coalition had a right to any court decisions in the case and any documents upon which the court relied in making its decisions. Despite this acknowledged right, for reasons of expedience, the court refused to grant access to the Coalition until the proceeding was completed. The district court also denied the Coalition's motion to modify the protective order in the '89 case because in its view the Coalition had no standing nor any rights on the merits to have access to materials which were part of the discovery process.

The '89 case was dismissed pursuant to the defendants' successful motion for summary judgment on February 21, 1992. In late April of 1993, the '90 case was dismissed pursuant to a settlement among the litigants. The Coalition renewed its request to vacate the seal on June 1, 1993. The district court denied the...

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