Judge: Frank M. Tavelman, Case: 20STCV11764, Date: 2023-04-28 Tentative Ruling


The Court tries to post tentative rulings prior to any
hearing on many matters, but not all.  If
the parties wish to submit on the tentative ruling and avoid a court
appearance, all counsel must confer and agree to do so.   Each counsel must contact the court and
advise they are submitting on the matter, that they have spoken to opposing
counsel who has indicated they too are submitting and will be calling the
court. All submitting counsel must call Dept A by 9:00 a.m. on the day of the
hearing and state that all parties will submit on the tentative ruling or in lieu
may indicate the party is submitting during calendar check-in and notice of the
ruling must be served as indicated in the tentative. If any party declines to
submit on the tentative ruling, then no telephone call is necessary, and all
parties should appear at the hearing in person or remotely.


Case Number: 20STCV11764    Hearing Date: April 28, 2023    Dept: A






March 27, 2023



Los Angeles Superior Court Case # 20STCV11764


MP:  Allergan Inc., Allergan USA, Inc. d/b/a Pacific Communications (“Allergan Defendants) Motion to Seal the Settlement Amount


RP:  None


NOTE:  This is NOT a tentative ruling; however, for the convenience of counsel the matter is being published on the Court’s Tentative Ruling portal to facilitate access.




The Court previously approved the Allegan Defendants Good Faith Settlement with plaintiffs, Jennifer Hasso and John Hasso.   No objection was received by the Court prior to the approval.  Allergan Defendants simultaneously filed a Motion to Seal the Determination of Good Faith Settlement, seeking only to redact the settlement amount, the remining terms to remain unsealed.


In support of the motion, Allergan Defendants submitted the declaration of Taylor K. Reynolds dated March 3, 2023. (Reynonlds Decl.).  Mr. Reynolds is Division Counsel for Commercial Litigation at AbbVie, Inc. (Reynolds Decl. ¶1.)  The Court takes Judicial Notice notes that AbbVie, Inc. acquired Allergan, Inc. and Allergan USA, Inc. in 2020.  Mr. Reynolds represents that “The confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement between plaintiffs and Allergan defendants was the subject of multiple rounds of discussion, negotiation, and compromise.” Reynolds Decl. ¶4).  “The purpose of the confidentiality clause is to allow the parties to informally resolve their dispute without concern about public disclosure of compromises each party makes to achieve the resolution.” (Reynolds Decl. ¶ 4).”  There are three other lawsuits concerning the same Allergan product, and “the settlement amount here constitutes commercially sensitive information. Its disclosure would impair Allegan’s ability to achieve an equitable resolution of these other cases on their own terms and without regard to the settlement amount here, which reflects a number of case specific factors.” (Reynolds Decl. ¶5).


Mr. Reynolds also asserts that the disclosing the settlement amount would force Allegan to forfeit the protections afforded by the settlement agreement, creating a substantial probability that Allegan would suffer prejudice, and would also invites the information to be used in the 3 pending series of cases and other future litigation. (Reynolds Decl. ¶ 7). 


The motion seeks to seal the unredacted version of the Motion for Good Faith Settlement.  An unredacted version of the Motion for Good Faith Settlement, with the settlement amount redacted pursuant to the parties' settlement agreement, has been filed conditionally under seal.


Law and Anaysis


California Rules of Court, Rule 2.551(b)(1) states, "A party requesting that a record be filed under seal must file a motion or an application for an order sealing the record. The motion or application must be accompanied by a memorandum and a declaration containing facts sufficient to justify the sealing.


Furthermore, California Rules of Court, Rule 2.550(c)-(e) provides,


(c) Court records presumed to be open unless confidentiality is required by law, court records are presumed to be open.


(d) Express factual findings required to seal records


The court may order that a record be filed under seal only if it expressly finds facts that establish:


(1)   There exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the record;

(2)    The overriding interest supports sealing the record;


(3)   A substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the record is not sealed;

(4)   The proposed sealing is narrowly tailored; and

(5)   No less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.


(e) Content and scope of the order


(1)   An order sealing the record must:

a.       Specifically state the facts that support the findings; and

b.      Direct the sealing of only those documents and pages, or, if reasonably practicable, portions of those documents and pages, that contain the material that needs to be placed under seal. All other portions of each document or page must be included in the public file.


(2)   Consistent with Code of Civil Procedure sections 639 and 645.1, if the records that a party is requesting be placed under seal are voluminous, the court may appoint a referee and fix and allocate the referee's fees among the parties.


Here, Allergan Defendants' motion complies with the California Rules of Court. Defendants' counsel has filed a supporting declaration establishing the factors set out under California Rules of Court, Rule 2.550(d).  A contractual obligation not to disclose the settlmenet amount can constitute an overriding interest under the Rules of Court. (Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Sup. Ct. (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1273.) Here, confidentiality is a material term of the settlement agreement, furthermore but for the remaining defendants settling after the Allergan Defendants filed their Motion for Good Faith Settlement and Sealing, the Allergan Defendants could have simply signed a private settlement agreement subject to continued jurisdiction pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §664.6 and would not have been forced to make the request they are making.  Furthermore, all Allergan Defendants seek to redact is the settlement amount, as other litigation is pending with different plaintiffs, and disclosure may adversely affect their ability to defend the other cases, or serve to discourage settlement in this case which would adversely affect the plaintiff who has been awaiting resolution of her case for years.


Therefore, the Court finds that (1) there is an overriding interest in protecting the confidentiality of the settlement amount, (2) this overriding interest supports sealing the record in order to protect the confidentiality of the settlement amount, (3) there is a substantial probability that the settlement amount will not remain confidential if the record is not sealed, (4) the proposed sealing is narrowly tailored to encompass references to the settlement amount, and (5) no less restrictive means exist to achieve the interest in protecting the confidentiality of the settlement amount.




The motion is granted.


The unredacted version of the Good Faith Settlement filed shall be sealed.




Allergan Inc., Allergan USA, Inc. d/b/a Pacific Communications (“Allergan Defendants) Motion to Seal the Settlement Amount is GRANTED.


the april 28, 2023 hearing date is advanced and vacated.  in the event the court receives a challenge to the sealing on or before the april 28th parties will be notified and a date scheduled to address any OBJECTIONS.






March 27, 2023                                                           /s/  F.M. Tavelman               

                                                                                    F.M. TAVELMAN, Judge

                                                                                    Superior Court of California

                                                                                    County of Los Angeles