For many years, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and defendants generally have settled cases with the caveat that the settlement and facts of the case be kept secret forever. Although their wrongdoing may have seriously, if not fatally, injured victims, their goal was to shield the rest of the world from their misconduct. In a recent decision governing the professional conduct of lawyers, the District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel has made clear that a settlement agreement “may not compel counsel to keep confidential . . . public information about the case, such as the name of the opponent, the allegations set forth in the complaint on file, or the fact that the case has settled.” Bar Counsel rightly determined that, among other things, suppression of this information works to keep important information from other victims who deserve to know that their injuries may have been caused by the wrongdoing of others.
For the complete text of the rule governing lawyer conduct, please click here.