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BARBINE v. KEYSTONE QUALITY TRANSPORT

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


April 16, 2004.

JOANNE BARBINE
v.
KEYSTONE QUALITY TRANSPORT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: STEWART DALZELL, District Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this 16th day of April, 2004, upon consideration of third party Walter Strine, Jr.'s motion to quash or modify subpoena (docket entry # 48) and plaintiff Joanne Barbine's response thereto, and the Court finding that:

(a) Barbine has served a subpoena upon Strine's counsel, Nancy C. DeMis, Esq., for the production of her case files for Draper v. Strine, Civ. No. 96-7712 (E.D. Pa.) (Newcomer, J.), a gender discrimination case brought by a former employee of Keystone Care Corporation*fn1 several years before Barbine began working for the defendant in this action;

  (b) Draper ended in a settlement agreement containing a confidentiality clause, pursuant to which the parties apparently*fn2 agreed not to "communicate or disclose the terms of this Settlement Agreement and General Release . . ., or their satisfaction or lack of satisfaction with the terms of this Agreement", Def.'s Mem. at 5-6;

  (c) Strine has now moved to quash the subpoena on the grounds that the Draper file is outside the scope of permissible discovery in this action and would require the breach of the Draper parties' confidentiality agreement;

  (d) At the outset, we note that the confidentiality clause is limited to the terms of the settlement agreement itself and does not govern such materials as deposition transcripts;

  (e) Given that non-privileged file materials are not governed by the confidentiality clause, as well as the fact that production of these materials will impose a negligible burden on Strine and conceivably could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence*fn3, we conclude that the subpoena is enforceable to this extent;

  (f) As to the terms of the settlement agreement, we note that public policy strongly favors the settlement of disputed claims, and confidentiality agreements regarding settlements should not be set aside absent a compelling justification, Flynn v. Portland Gen'l Elec. Corp., 1989 WL 112802, at *2 (D. Or. Sept. 21, 1989);

  (g) The terms of the Drapers' settlement with Strine have no bearing on Barbine's claims, the decision-making structure at Keystone Quality Transport, or Barbine's experiences as an employee there, and we therefore enforce the confidentiality clause and modify the subpoena to exclude the settlement agreement;

  It is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART in accordance with the foregoing paragraphs.


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