Document Type



Public health practice - the prevention of disease and injury and the protection of the population - relies on access to information. Legal practice treats information very differently: it is a weapon: has power and value, and it is rarely yielded without getting something in return. Civil litigation uncovers a great deal of otherwise unavailable information about practices and products which may cause disease and injury. However, common practice in and related to lawsuits, trials, and courts, such as protective orders, sealing orders, and confidential settlement agreements, can deprive public health authorities and the public itself of information that might be helpful to prevent disease, injury, disability, and death. This article describes the important debate about court-sponsored secrecy.

Date of Authorship for this Version



public health, litigation, Law

Original Citation

Originally published in Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 68, No. 3, pp. 131-140, Summer 2006.