An important aspect of the North Carolina Juul legal settlement as well as several of the opioid settlements have been provisions making the discovery documents public. As the tobacco experience richly demonstrates, these documents can educate the public, the media and policymakers and lead to positive change.
An important technical detail is how the documents are made public, including issues like formatting, indexing (metadata), redaction and how to resolve disputes over whether a specific document must be made public. If the settlements provide proper specifications on these important details the documents can be made available relatively quickly and economically. On the other hand, not specifying these issues or poorly specifying them can greatly increase costs, slow the process, and allow the companies to withhold important documents.
The UCSF Industry Documents Library staff has now prepared a detailed specification to guide attorneys general and private litigators on these issues, including estimating the financial impacts of various decisions.
I urge plaintiff litigators in this and other public interest litigation (such as on climate change) to review these recommendations and keep them in mind in settlement negotiations.
In addition to the link above, here is document: