Americans would be shocked and angered to learn that when they go to the store some of the products they purchase may be hiding dangerous secrets. When businesses settle unsafe product liability suits in which their products have harmed people, they often demand that individuals agree to keep secret, dangers uncovered through the court system. This practice is called court secrecy.
Secrecy agreements have been used to conceal the dangers of common everyday products including collapsing baby cribs, dangerous car tires, harmful prescription drugs, and hazardous toys. These agreements deprive the public of important public safety information which could prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths. Federal legislation is long overdue. Court systems in 41 states have taken steps to limit court secrecy – the Sunshine in Litigation Act (S. 2449/H.R. 5884) would simply ensure that federal courts also consider public health and safety matters before approving secret settlements.