Secret settlements, referred to as confidentiality agreements in the legal community, prevent plaintiffs from disclosing information about settlements with defendants. These secret agreements protect manufacturers of products known to cause harm or death and service providers we innately trust like physicians and hospitals that have caused harm or death. But what do secret settlements mean to consumers? Secret settlements prevent consumers at large from being made aware of known dangers and risks.
In this recent ABC news story Steve Daniels of ABC 11’s Eye Witness News I-Team investigated the hidden secrets of confidential settlement agreements and posed the question, “Is it time for NC to let the sun ‘shine’ on the dark secret of confidentiality agreements?” According to Duke Law Professor Don Beskind, during his interview with Daniels, “…if all those cases are settled with confidentiality agreements, the public won’t be aware that a particular product is dangerous…” As one simple example, confidential settlement agreements prohibited the public from being made aware of the dangers in the Firestone tire cases, which were ultimately linked to more than 270 deaths.
As consumers, don’t we all have a right to know if the products and/or services providers we choose have caused harm or death to others? Don’t we have the right to make informed decisions about the products and service providers we choose?
Lawyer and NC Senator Floyd McKissick, Jr., says, “…it is incumbent upon us to do all that we can to protect our families…” and will take up this important cause by sponsoring a new bill limiting secrecy orders in NC. Other states such as CA, SC & FL have already taken steps to protect their citizens by banning such secrecy orders in federal cases.
I agree Senator! Thank you for taking up the cause to lead the way to help protect consumers in NC!
Senior Vice President