(CN) – The 9th Circuit ordered litigants on Wednesday to unseal expert testimony in a long-running annuity fraud case.
Four class actions filed in Los Angeles in 2007 are implicated in the decision. Two of the lawsuits claimed that Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America and American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company duped senior citizens into buying expensive annuities by withholding important information. The other two complaints accused Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company and Midland National Life Insurance Company of similar claims, but those cases settled in 2010.
Before settling, however, the plaintiffs were locked in a two-year discovery dispute with Fidelity and Midland over the testimony of Craig McCann, Ph.D, which the plaintiffs had attached to a motion opposing summary judgment.
After the companies moved to exclude McCann’s report, the District Court appointed Zvi Bodie, Ph.D., to resolve the issue. The plaintiffs then challenged the admissibility of Bodie’s report, and the District Court sealed both documents.
With the remaining suits set to go to trial this year, Allianz went after the sealed reports. The District Court refused, so Allianz appealed to the 9th Circuit.
In an unsigned opinion from Pasadena, the federal appeals court found that the documents do not fall under the “exception to the presumption of public access.”
“We conclude that the judicial records at issue were submitted to the court in connection with pending motions for summary judgment,” the brief ruling states. “Because neither the plaintiffs nor the District Court have identified any compelling reasons to keep the records sealed, we conclude that the records should be made public once the parties are permitted to redact sensitive information.”