../West Educational Publishing

Party to Litigation May Protect Identity if Fear of Harm from Publicity Is Sufficient
Description Appeals court held that foreign workers in various garment factories, who claimed they suffered from numerous labor abuses, could proceed anonymously because they demonstrated real fear of harm to themselves or to their family if their identities were revealed. Their security overcame the normal right of the public to know the details of court proceedings.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Anonymous Party; Public Interest
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts About 25,000 foreign workers in clothing factories work on Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Twenty-three workers (from China and Bangladesh) sued twenty-one employers, claiming multiple violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as unsanitary conditions, failure to keep pay records, and deducting excessive sums for housing. They filed suit as "Jane Does I-XXIII" because they "fear that if their true identity is revealed, they will face actual physical violence ... immediate deportation to China" where they may be arrested, and they fear that their families may suffer physical and economic retaliation. They sued on behalf of all similarly situated garment workers. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to include the plaintiffs' true names. Plaintiffs moved to proceed under fictitious names. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed.
Decision Reversed. "A party may preserve his or her anonymity in judicial proceedings in special circumstances when the party's need for anonymity outweighs prejudice to the opposing party and the public's interest in knowing the party's identity." Factors to be considered include the severity of harm threatened, the reasonableness of the anonymous party's fears, and the party's vulnerability to retaliation. When anonymity is allowed, the court will manage the proceedings to protect the identity without prejudicing the opposing party's ability to litigate the case.
Citation Does I thru XXIII v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir., 2000)

Back to Court Procedure Listings

©1997-2001  South-Western, a division of Cengage Learning, Inc. Cengage Learning is a trademark used herein under license.