Brief Fact Summary.
Consumers and journalists sought to intervene in a suit in order to obtain confidential documents that were sealed as a result of a protective order issued by the district court.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a third party to use intervention to challenge a protective order.
Grove Fresh Distributors, Inc. (Grove) filed suit against competing orange juice companies for misbranding their products. The district court issued a protective order preventing Grove from distributing information obtained from competing orange juice companies during discovery. The record was later sealed and journalists alongside consumers sought to vacate the seal when they intervened in the suit.
Whether a third party may use intervention to challenge a protective order?
No. The correct method for challenging a protective order is intervention under Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
When third parties seek to modify protective orders they are entitled to the documents unless the parties opposing the modification of the protective order prove that the third party has no right to the sealed documents. Similarly, the press has a right to access court proceedings and documents. It is therefore up to the litigants to determine which documents must remain confidential.