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Robert J. Coffey, Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. Merrill Lynch

November 1, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

RYAN K. BAKHTIARI (Bar No. 199147) e-mail: AIDIKOFF, UHL & BAKHTIARI 9454 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 303 Beverly Hills, California 90212 Telephone: (310) 274-0666 Facsimile: (310) 859-0513 Attorneys for Plaintiff Robert J. Coffey PETER H. MASON (Bar No. 71839) e-mail: ERIC A. HERZOG (Bar No. 229066) e-mail: FULBRIGHT & JAWORSKI L.L.P. 555 South Flower Street, 41st Floor Los Angeles, California 90071 Telephone: (213) 892-9200 Facsimile: (213) 892-9494 Attorneys for Defendants Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.


Upon the stipulation of the parties for entry of the following Protective Order pursuant to Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to prevent disclosure of confidential information, the Court enters the following order:

1. Statement of Good Cause.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1)(G) permits the grant of a protective order upon a showing of good cause, and provides that the protection of a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information is a proper basis for the issuance of a protective order. The parties have conferred and stipulate to the following:

This case involves a dispute between plaintiff Robert J. Coffey, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, on the one hand, and defendants Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. ("Defendants"), on the other (collectively, the "Parties" or "parties"). It is anticipated that disclosure and discovery activity in this action are likely to involve production of confidential, proprietary, or private information relating to the Defendants' business activities, and of confidential financial or other sensitive information of customers of the Defendants. Public disclosure of this type of information would likely cause significant harm to the affected party's competitive position in the marketplace, or to the security of customers' confidential financial or other sensitive information. As such, there is good cause for entering a protective order.

Accordingly, the Parties hereby stipulate and petition the Court to enter the following Stipulated Protective Order (the "Protective Order"). The Parties acknowledge that this Protective Order does not confer blanket protection on all disclosures or responses to discovery and that the protection it affords extends only to the limited information or items that are entitled under applicable legal principles to confidential treatment. The Parties further acknowledge, as set forth in Paragraph 10 of the Protective Order, that this Protective Order does not create an entitlement to file confidential information under seal; Local Civil Rule 79-5 and Paragraph 9 of the Court's Standing Order (Docket No. 3) set forth the procedures that must be followed and reflect the standards that will be applied when a party seeks permission from the Court to file material under seal.

2. Nondisclosure of Protected Information.

Documents, tangible items, discovery responses, deposition testimony, or other material or media containing confidential information disclosed or produced by any party in this litigation are referred to as "Protected Information." Except as otherwise indicated below, all documents, tangible items, discovery responses, deposition testimony or other information designated by the producing party as "Confidential" and which are disclosed or produced to the attorneys for other parties to this litigation are Protected Information and are entitled to confidential treatment as described below.

3. Marking of Protected Information.

Any designation of Protected Information made in accordance with this Protective Order also shall apply to all documents that reproduce, paraphrase, summarize or otherwise contain information from the documents, materials, testimony, and information so designated. Documents, materials, testimony, and information shall be designated as follows:

(a) Hard Copy and/or Imaged Documents. Documents containing Protected Information may be designated by any party as "confidential" by marking each page of the document so designated with a stamp stating "CONFIDENTIAL."

(b) Electronic Documents Produced In Native Form. To avoid altering documents produced in native form, the producing party shall stamp or label the front of any CD, DVD, or other electronic media containing any group of produced documents with the term "CONFIDENTIAL."

(c) Non-written materials. For materials produced in non-written form, the party making the designation shall notify all parties in writing of the designation being made and describe in detail the specific materials that are being designated.

In the case of non-written media, such as videotapes, DVDs, hard drives, or computer diskettes, the producing party shall prominently stamp or label the media produced with the term "CONFIDENTIAL."

4. Published Documents.

Protected Information shall not include materials that on their face show they have been published to the public.

5. Declassification.

A party will designate information as "confidential" only if it believes in good faith that it contains Confidential Information. If a party believes that material has been improperly designated as Protected Information subject to this Protective Order, that party's counsel ("Challenging Party") shall so notify, in writing, counsel for the party or other person or entity producing the Protected Information ("Responding Entity"). The Challenging Party and Responding Entity shall then meet and confer in good faith concerning such disputed designation within seven (7) days of receipt of the notice. If the dispute is not resolved by mutual agreement, the Challenging Party may move the Court to remove the confidential designation of the documents or materials produced. Information designated as Protected Information shall remain subject to the terms of this Protective Order pending the Court's determination of any motion for removal such protection. On any such motion the Responding Entity will bear the burden of proof that the Confidential designation in question should not be removed. Aside from the requirement of a 7-day as opposed to a 10-day response deadline to the Challenging Party's notice of the assertedly improper designation, the parties shall otherwise comply with Local Rules 37-1 through 37-4 in seeking a ruling from the Court on any such dispute.

6. Additional Orders.

This Order shall not abrogate any party or other entity's right to refuse to produce Protected Information, or to redact certain portions thereof, upon proper grounds, including without limitation, on the basis of any applicable privilege or statute. Furthermore, any party may also seek further ...

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