Confidential Settlements Policy

Jury Verdict Revises Requirements for
Reporting Confidential Settlements
Effective January 2011
Dear Jury Verdict Reader:

It seems that confidentiality has become the sine qua non for many defendants when settlement of civil litigation is discussed with plaintiff's counsel. In order to secure the best possible settlement for their client, a plaintiff's lawyer must often agree that certain key pieces of information regarding the case, such as the names of the parties to the litigation and/or the case number, must not be disclosed to the media, including the Jury Verdict Reporter. This creates a conflict with the Jury Verdict Reporter's traditional newspaper-like settlement reporting requirements-with their required full disclosure. As a result, settlements of significant value often could not be printed in the Jury Verdict Reporter's monthly Settlements by Categories newsletter because the case report that was submitted to us was simply too confidential. It has been a source of frustration for the Jury Verdict Reporter staff that otherwise useful case outcomes could not be published because it meant that other attorneys, for both the plaintiff and the defense, were being deprived of helpful settlement information. Consequently, effective January 1, 2011, the Jury Verdict Reporter is altering its position regarding the submission of confidential settlements for publication in its monthly Settlements by Categories newsletter.

Settlement reports will now be considered for publication where the names of the parties and/or the case number are withheld pursuant to a confidentiality agreement. However, in those instances, the Jury Verdict Reporter must be provided with the venue where the case was (or would have been) filed, the insurer that paid the settlement (or a note that the defendant was self-insured), and sufficient information for us to objectively verify that the settlement occurred. The objective information may include items that are to be excluded from publication in our settlement newsletter such as the case number, names of the parties, and names of opposing counsel.

The Jury Verdict Reporter's staff retains complete discretion to determine which cases can be published and which are still "too confidential" to be included in our settlement newsletter. Settlement reports that do not include sufficient information for us to objectively verify that the settlement did, in fact, occur and was accurately presented to us will not be printed. Similarly, settlement reports that do not include a detailed description of the plaintiff or plaintiffs and their injuries/damage, or reports which we otherwise believe lack enough detail regarding the litigation to be useful to our readers will not be published. Finally, we must respectfully decline to publish settlement reports where the parties to the case require that predetermined language be printed verbatim in the Jury Verdict Reporter's newsletter.

To the many attorneys who took the time to speak with us regarding the issue of confidential settlements, thank you for your input. We believe that this revised publication policy will address your concerns and, at the same time, ensure that the Jury Verdict Reporter publications remain a reliable and valuable research tool for civil trial lawyers.

Sincerely,

John Kirkton, Editor