United States District Court, D. Minnesota
B. Briant, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, for plaintiff.
J. Combies and Matthew C. Hanson, COMBIES HANSON, P.C., for
non-party William Plourde, et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is non-party William Plourde and Freda Merill's
(collectively, “Plourde”) motion to unseal
deposition transcripts filed with the court under a
protective order. Plaintiff Sorin Group, USA
(“Sorin”) opposes the motion, arguing that it is
procedurally flawed and, if not procedurally flawed, should
nevertheless be denied on the merits. Because Sorin's
countervailing interests outweigh the presumption of public
access that may be attached to deposition transcripts, the
Court will deny the motion.
September 26, 2014, Sorin brought this case (hereinafter
“Minnesota case”) against St. Jude Medical, Inc.
(“St. Jude”), alleging various unfair competition
claims stemming from St. Jude's employment of two of
Sorin's former sales executives. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-5,
45-71, Sept. 26, 2014, Docket No. 1.) Sorin essentially
alleged that St. Jude improperly induced the employees to
leave Sorin. (See generally Compl.)
response, St. Jude argued that the employees left Sorin
because of “Sorin's lack of response to the
negative publicity surrounding Mitroflow, and sales'
reps' resulting inability to sell that product, which
surgeons naturally no longer wanted to use.” (St. Jude
Medical, S.C., Inc.'s Statement of Case at 4, Oct. 31,
2016, Docket No. 219.) Mitroflow is a heart valve produced by
Sorin which allegedly caused the death of a child in 2013.
(Id. at 3.) St. Jude argued that the negative
publicity and a subsequent negative review of the product
caused the employees to seek employment with St. Jude, rather
than any wrongful inducement by St. Jude itself.
(Id. at 3-4.) The case went to a jury, which found
in favor of St. Jude, and Sorin's post-trial appeal was
dismissed by the Eighth Circuit. (Judgment, Dec. 9, 2016,
Docket No. 284; USCA Judgment, Nov. 6, 2017, Docket No. 339.)
a non-party to this case, brought a separate suit against
Sorin in the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts (hereinafter “Massachusetts case”).
(Mem. in Support at 1, Feb. 19, 2019, Docket No. 342.) In
that case, Plourde alleges that Sorin “under-reported
and/or misrepresented product failures to the Food and Drug
Administration” in regard to the Mitroflow heart valve.
(Mem. in Support at 5.)
February 19, 2019, Plourde filed a motion with the Court
seeking to lift the seal on deposition transcripts of former
Sorin employees. (Mot. to Lift the Seal of Dep. Trs.
(“Mot. to Lift”), Feb. 19, 2019, Docket No. 341.)
Plourde argues that the testimony given by those employees
will show that Sorin knew of problems with the Mitroflow
heart valve, yet failed to properly report them to the FDA.
(Mem. in Support at 6.) Specifically, Plourde requests
unsealing of the following exhibits to the Declaration of
Jared B. Briant (Docket No. 225):
1. Exhibit B (FILED UNDER SEAL): true and correct
copy of the transcript from the deposition of Brett Butcher,
taken July 31, 2015;
2. Exhibit C (FILED UNDER SEAL): true and correct
copy of the transcript from the deposition of Patricia L.
Carr, taken July 27, 2015;
3. Exhibit D (FILED UNDER SEAL): true and correct
copy of the transcript from the deposition of Spencer
Seibert, taken July 17, 2015;
4. Exhibit E (FILED UNDER SEAL): true and correct
copy of the transcript from the deposition of Scott
McCormick, taken June 9, 2015; and, 5. Exhibit G (FILED
UNDER SEAL): true and correct copy of the transcript