Commercial Division Blog

Posted: October 30, 2023 / Written by: Jeffrey M. Eilender, Samuel L. Butt, Seth D. Allen, Joshua Wurtzel, Channing J. Turner / Categories Sealing/Confidentiality, Commercial

Court Grants Motion to Seal Interrogatory Responses Revealing Costs of Pharmaceutical Products

In a Decision, dated September 30, 2023, in Zydus Worldwide DMCC v. Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., 654824/2019, Justice Andrea Masley granted Plaintiff Zydus Worldwide DMMC’s motion to redact portions of interrogatory responses that revealed various costs related to the pharmaceutical products at issue in the action.  The Court had previously denied a motion to seal certain other information brought by Defendant Teva Pharmaceuticals.  However, the Court found that Zydus had demonstrated the requisite “good cause” to support sealing.  The Court explained: 

In the business context, courts have sealed records where the disclosure of documents "could threaten a business's competitive advantage." (Mosallem, 76 AD3d at 350 [citations omitted].) Records concerning financial information may be sealed where there has not been a showing of relevant public interest in the disclosure of that information. (See Dawson v White & Case, 184 AD2d 246, 247 [1st Dept 1992].) A party "ought not to be required to make their private financial information public . . . where no substantial public interest would be furthered by public access to that information." (D'Amour v Ohrenstein & Brown, 17 Misc.3d 1130[A], 2007 NY Slip Op 52207[U], *20 [Sup Ct, NY County 2007] [citations omitted].).

Plaintiff has demonstrated good cause to redact the amounts highlighted in NYSCEF 126-128, as well as the table contained in the Interrogatory Responses. Plaintiff states that this information is not public and if disclosed, could "threaten [plaintiff's] competitive advantage by revealing to [plaintiff's] competitors in the generic pharmaceuticals industry its cost structures for purchasing pharmaceutical lines, obtaining regulatory approval for its generic pharmaceutical products, and prosecuting related patent litigation." . . . Moreover, there has been no showing of legitimate public concern (see Dawson, 184 AD2d at 247 [1st Dept 1992]), and the redactions requested by plaintiff are narrowly tailored. (See Danco Lab, Ltd., 274 AD2d at 6.)

Businesses engaged in litigation often find themselves in a situation where an adversary seeks to reveal commercially sensitive information or they must use sensitive information to defend themselves.  In those cases, seeking to seal such information from the public docket can provide an effective way of both preserving confidentiality and pursuing litigation goals. 

The attorneys at Schlam Stone & Dolan frequently litigate disputes concerning commercially sensitive or confidential information. Contact the Commercial Division Blog Committee at commercialdivisionblog@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions concerning such issues.