Bradley v. Ackal, No. 18-31052 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit reversed and vacated the district court's order denying vacatur of sealing orders. The court held that the decision denying vacatur of the sealing orders is appealable under the collateral order doctrine, because the decision is conclusive; the decision addresses important and unsettled questions of law concerning the Louisiana Public Records Law and appellants' First Amendment and common law rights to access settlement agreement information contained in a sealed court recording and sealed minutes, particularly where a minor's privacy interests are involved; the subject of the decision is completely separable from the merits of the litigation; and the decision would be effectively unreviewable on appeal from final judgment.
On the merits, the court held that the district court abused its discretion in denying appellants' motion for vacatur by relying on erroneous conclusions of law and misapplying the law to the facts. In this case, the settlement agreement involves public officials or parties of a public nature and matters of legitimate public concern, and it does not appear that the district court weighed as a factor in favor of disclosure the presumption of the public's right of access.