A judge says that attorneys for seven women who are suing Bill Cosby for defamation should get some access to the case file of the lawyer for Andrea Constand, even though she settled in a confidential agreement with the entertainer in 2006.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody wrote that “an agreement between two parties to keep materials confidential cannot block the disclosure of those materials to third parties in discovery.”
The seven women — Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie — have accused Cosby of sexual assault in a defamation lawsuit filed in Massachusetts in 2014.
As part of discovery for their litigation, they subpoenaed the case file for Dolores Troiani, the attorney who represented Constand, a Temple University employee who sued Cosby in 2005, alleging sexual assault and other claims. The next year, Constand reached a confidential settlement agreement with Cosby.
The seven women are seeking the file as they gather evidence to try to prove that their accusations are true. Cosby’s attorneys have made a defamation counter-claim, contending that the women’s accusations tarnished his “honorable legacy and reputation” by “willfully, maliciously and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multi-decade-old purported sexual misconduct.”
Troiani did not object to the subpoena.
But Cosby’s attorneys sought to quash it, arguing that there was no “compelling justification” requiring disclosure of “these confidential materials.” They also argued that not everything in the case file was relevant to the plaintiff’s action, and that production of the file would “subject a person to undue burden.”
Brody, however, noted that the seven women suing Cosby “never agreed to the confidentiality of these materials.”
“The public reaps no benefit by allowing settlement agreements to suppress evidence,” she wrote.
Brody limited the release of the case file to materials pertaining to the seven women plaintiffs and other witnesses. She granted Cosby’s motion to prevent the release of “any other subject matter.”
Cosby also is facing criminal charges stemming from the Constand case, after a Pennsylvania prosecutor filed charges in December. A preliminary hearing has been put on hold as Cosby’s attorneys pursue an appeal to have the case dismissed.
Brody rejected his attorneys’ argument that disclosure of the case file would “assist the prosecution and impair his ability to get an impartial jury” in the criminal case because the Montgomery County, Pa., district attorney already has a copy of the file.
She did grant American Media Inc.’s motion to redact information in the case file that pertains to a settlement amount that the National Enquirer paid to Constand. The Enquirer was also named in Constand’s civil litigation over a story published at the time.
Brody also granted Cosby’s motion to quash the subpoena to disclose the confidential settlement agreement itself.
The judge said she would appoint a special master to review the materials.