There has been a new development in the Company Doe v. CPSC case that we have reported on in the past. In October 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland published a heavily redacted opinion in the “Company Doe” case, which challenged the CPSC’s decision to publish a report on the www.SaferProducts.gov database over Company Doe’s objection that the report was materially inaccurate. The district court chastised the CPSC for its continued efforts to publish the report and granted the company’s motion for summary judgment, thereby permanently preventing the CPSC from publishing the report. The court also granted the company’s right to proceed under seal and heavily redacted its opinion so that neither the plaintiff nor the product that was the subject of the report could be identified.
Consumer groups filed an appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reveal the identity of the manufacturer. Last week, Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd agreed with the consumer groups and held that “the district court’s sealing order violates the public’s right of access under the First Amendment” and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to unseal the case in its entirety. Company Doe could appeal the decision to the entire 4th Circuit or the Supreme Court.