An act to amend the civil practice law and rules, in relation to enact-
ing the "sunshine in litigation act" regarding protective orders
To enact the Sunshine in Litigation Act to prohibit settlement agree-
ments which conceal a public hazard or any information that would iden-
tify a public hazard.
Section 3141 titles the bill "Sunshine in Litigation Act".
Section 3142 defines governmental entity, public hazard, and trade
Section 3143 (a) prohibits the court from entering an order or judgement
which has the purpose or effect of concealing a public hazard or infor-
mation that may be useful to the public in protecting from a public
Section 3143 (b) provides that trade secrets which are not pertinent to
public hazards shall not be subject to disclosure.
Section 3143 (c) provides that any agreement or contract which has the
purpose or effect of concealing a public hazard is Void as contrary to
public policy and may not be enforced by New York courts or otherwise.
Section 3143 (d) provides standing to any substantially affected person,
including news media, to bring an action to challenge an order, agree-
ment or contract on grounds that it prevents the disclosure of a public
Section 3143 (e) provides that the courts will review motions to prevent
disclosure "in camera" upon good cause. Only necessary information vital
to the protection of the public will be disclosed by the court. Valuable
trade secrets and confidential information will remain protected.
Section 3143 (d) provides that any settlement involving government enti-
ties that conceals issues of public hazards is void and unenforceable.
Documents related to government case settlements are subject to FOIL.
Secrecy agreements that conceal public hazards undermine the civil
justice system and endanger New Yorkers by keeping information vital to
their health and safety from public view. Secret settlements also have a
corrosive effect on public confidence in the courts.
The recent recall and controversy surrounding Firestone tires under-
scores the need for the "Sunshine in Litigation" reforms. Victims of
the dangerous tires began seeking justice in the courts in 1992, but it
was not until 2000 that the tires were recalled. During the interim
there were dozens of lawsuits settled out of court in which Firestone
demanded and obtained secrecy orders. These effectively blocked the
release to the public of information about the potential dangers associ-
ated with the tires. As a result, there were many unnecessary deaths and
injuries which could have been avoided. Other examples of secret settle-
ments that concealed ongoing harm to the public are asbestos, silicone
breast implants, and DES synthetic estrogen.
A number of other states have enacted disclosure laws, including South
Carolina, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Washington.
S.0472 of 2021-2022 (Hoylman): Advanced to Third Reading
S.S.4235 of 2019-2020 (Hoylman): Died in Judiciary
A.5632 of 2019-2020 (Weinstein): Died in Judiciary
None to the State.
This act shall take effect 30 days after it shall have become a law

Statutes affected:
S2552: 3103 civil practice law