Zenith Radio Corp. v. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.

Citation529 F. Supp. 866
Decision Date10 December 1981
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 74-2451,74-3247. MDL No. 189.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania




Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley, by Edwin P. Rome, William H. Roberts, John Hardin Young, Arnold I. Kalman, Kathleen H. Larkin, Norman E. Greenspan, Lawrence S. Bauman, Philadelphia, Pa., for Zenith Radio Corp. and National Union Elec. Corp., plaintiffs.

Philip J. Curtis, John Borst, Jr., Glenview, Ill., for Zenith Radio Corp., plaintiff.

Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander by Donald J. Zoeller, John P. Hederman, Thomas P. Lynch, Howard C. Crystal, Robert A. Jaffe, Shelly B. O'Neill, Mark K. Neville, Jr., New York City, Drinker, Biddle & Reath by Patrick T. Ryan, Philadelphia, Pa., for Tokyo Shibaura Elec. Co., Ltd. and Toshiba America, Inc., defendants; defense coordinating counsel.

Duane, Morris & Heckscher by Henry T. Reath, Terry R. Broderick, Philadelphia, Pa., Crummy, Del Deo, Dolan & Purcell by

John T. Dolan, Arnold B. Calmann, Newark, N. J., Seki, Jarvis & Lynch by Hoken S. Seki, Richard O. Briggs, Chicago, Ill., for Mitsubishi Elec. Corp. and Mitsubishi Elec. Sales America, Inc.

Reid & Priest by Charles F. Schirmeister, Robert J. Lynch, New York City, L. Peter Farkas, Washington, D. C., for Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Intern. Corp., defendants.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges by Ira M. Millstein, A. Paul Victor, Joel B. Harris, Kevin P. Hughes, Robert K. Hood, H. Adam Prussin, Harry M. Davidow, Jeffrey L. Kessler, Stuart Peim, Lenore Liberman, Gayle E. Hanlon, Makoto Matsuo, New York City, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius by Raymond T. Cullen, Philadelphia, Pa., for Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Inc., Matsushita Elec. Corp. of America, Matsushita Electronics Corp., Matsushita Elec. Trading Co., and Quasar Electronics Corp., defendants.

Metzger, Shadyac & Schwarz by Carl W. Schwarz, Michael E. Friedlander, William H. Barrett, Stephen P. Murphy, William B. T. Mock, Jr.; Tanaka, Walders & Ritger by H. William Tanaka, Lawrence R. Walders, B. Jenkins Middleton, Washington, D. C., Hunt, Kerr, Bloom & Hitchner, by Charles J. Bloom, Philadelphia, Pa., for Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Sales Corp. of America, and Hitachi Kaden Hanbai Kabushiki Kaisha, defendants.

Wender, Murase & White by Peter J. Gartland, Gene Yukio Matsuo, Peter A. Dankin, Lance Gotthoffer, New York City, for Sharp Corp. and Sharp Electronics Corp., defendants.

Whitman & Ransom by Patrick H. Sullivan, Dugald C. Brown, James S. Morris, Kevin R. Keating, Michael S. Press, New York City, Hunt, Kerr, Bloom & Hitchner by Charles J. Bloom, Philadelphia, Pa., for Sanyo Elec., Inc., Sanyo Elec. Co., Ltd., Sanyo Mfg. Corp. and Sanyo Elec. Trading Co., Ltd., defendants.

Arnstein, Gluck, Weitzenfeld & Minow by Louis A. Lehr, Jr., Stanley M. Lipnick, John L. Ropiequet, Chicago, Ill., for Sears, Roebuck & Co., defendant.

Rosenman, Colin, Freund, Lewis & Cohen by Asa D. Sokolow, Renee J. Roberts, Marc Rowin, Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler by Joshua F. Greenberg, Randolph S. Sherman, Daniel D. Chazin, New York City, Wolf, Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen by Franklin Poul, Philadelphia, Pa., for Sony Corp. and Sony Corp. of America, defendants.

Kirkland & Ellis by Thomas P. Coffey, E. Houston Harsha, Karl F. Nygren, Chicago, Ill., for Motorola, Inc., defendant.


EDWARD R. BECKER, District Judge.

                                        Table of Contents
                      I.   PRELIMINARY STATEMENT                                                  872
                           A. Introduction                                                        872
                           B. Case Management History as it Bears Upon Confidentiality            877
                           C. General Description of the Documents Whose Confidentiality is at
                              Issue                                                               882
                           D. The Contentions of the Parties                                      884
                           E. The Framework for Dealing with the Motions and an Overview of
                              Their Resolution                                                    887
                      II.  THE PRINCIPLE OF CONFIDENTIALITY                                       889
                           A. Confidentiality Orders Pursuant to Federal Rule 26(c)(7)            889
                           B. The Validity of Pretrial Order 35                                   892
                           C. The Propriety of Wholesale Declassification                         893
                      III. COMMON LAW ACCESS RIGHTS TO JUDICIAL RECORDS                                    895
                           A. The General Nature of the Right                                              895
                           B. The Extent to Which Access Rights Attach to Judicial Records                 897
                              1. Introduction                                                              897
                              2. Discovery Materials                                                       898
                              3. Material that is the Subject of an Evidentiary Ruling                     898
                              4. Materials Referred to at a Hearing                                        899
                              5. Records Filed Under Seal that are the Ultimate Subject of a Dispositive
                                 Ruling                                                                    901
                           C. Countervailing Interests: The Balancing Test                                 901
                           D. Access Rights to the Critical Documents at Issue                             905
                              1. Introduction                                                              905
                              2. The Document Submissions Sheets                                           905
                              3. The Final Pretrial Statement                                              906
                              4. Documents Referenced in the Summary Judgment Hearings and
                                 in the Final Pretrial Statement                                           907
                              5. The "Raw Economic Data" Contained in Sealed Discovery Responses
                                 and the Final Pretrial Statement Appendices                               907
                      IV. FIRST AMENDMENT INTERESTS IN JUDICIAL RECORDS                                    908
                          A. Introduction                                                                  908
                          B. First Amendment Rights in Discovery Materials                                 908
                          C. Relationship Between the First Amendment and the Common Law
                             Right to Inspect and Copy                                                     913
                          D. First Amendment Rights to the Remaining Documents at Issue                    914
                      V. CONCLUSION                                                                        915
I. Preliminary Statement
A. Introduction

This opinion addresses one of the most difficult and vexatious issues judges confront in managing complex litigation — the access and First Amendment rights of litigants and the public in connection with the large quantity of documents that is marked confidential pursuant to a protective order such as is entered to facilitate discovery in virtually every complex case. The setting of the present dispute is a massive international antitrust case, the nature and the history of which are described in our opinions granting summary judgment for defendants on all of plaintiffs' claims. See Zenith Radio Corp. v. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 513 F.Supp. 1100 (E.D.Pa.1981), appeal pending, No. 81-2331 (3d Cir.) (Summary Judgment Motions Related to Plaintiff's Sherman Act, Wilson Tariff Act, Clayton Act, and Robinson-Patman Act Claims) (hereinafter "Final Summary Judgment Opinion"); Zenith Radio Corp. v. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 494 F.Supp. 1190, (E.D. Pa.1980), appeal pending, No. 80-2080 (3d Cir.) (1916 Antidumping Act).1

Two cognate motions are before us, both rooted in pretrial order ("PTO") 35 (Dec. 22, 1975), the "umbrella" confidentiality order governing pretrial discovery.2 One motion seeks vacatur of PTO 35 in its entirety. The other, to which the bulk of this opinion will be devoted, seeks "wholesale" declassification, i.e., removal from confidential status, of: (1) all pleadings and other papers filed of record that have been stamped "confidential" under the aegis of PTO 35; (2) all documents offered by the parties at the pretrial evidentiary hearings; and (3) all documents produced in discovery which, under the aegis of PTO 35, have been stamped "confidential." Defendants vigorously oppose the motions.

There have been to date over 3,500 docket filings in this case. These filings may be grouped into three categories relevant to the instant issues. The first category encompasses 385 filings that have been made under seal, pursuant to PTO 35.3 The most important of these filings is plaintiffs' final pretrial statement "FPS", a multi-volume document that incorporates virtually all of the significant material contained in the other filings. Plaintiffs' FPS contains some 17,000 pages and is cross-referenced to approximately 250,000 documents. The etiology of the FPS is explained in Part III of the Final Summary Judgment Opinion, 513 F.Supp. at 1130-1135. Suffice it to say here that the FPS provided the basic charter for our final summary judgment hearing. It is a document in which the plaintiffs4 were required to set forth:

Each fact that the party intends to prove at trial either affirmatively or by way of defense, together with a list of: (1) the witnesses (including expert witnesses) whose testimony will be advanced to prove that fact; (2) the documents ... which will be offered to prove that fact; and (3) line by line references

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