In most medical malpractice cases which are settled before trial, the defendants request as a term of the settlement that the settlement be confidential. As an attorney representing victims of medical negligence, I have mixed feelings about agreeing to confidentiality of a settlement on behalf of my clients. On one hand, the court system is meant to be a public forum and agreeing to confidentiality serves to keep the general public in the dark about mistakes made by doctors that fail to practice within the standard of care. On the other hand, without confidentiality, a settlement often cannot be consummated and in refusing to agree to the same it could preclude resolution to a claim which the client both wants and needs to resolve.
Fellow Injuryboard Attorney Jane Paulson blogs about a Pennsylvania judge’s recent refusal to seal a medical malpractice settlement
Secrecy agreements keep information about potentially dangerous practices and procedures from the public and put people in harm’s way.”
If more judges would take this approach it would benefit not only the parties whose negotiations on settlement will evolve to preclude confidentiality as an expected term of resolution but also the general public which will truly be provided open access to court records as our system of justice intended.