Appeals court: Consumer case improperly sealed

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court in Virginia says a judge improperly allowed a company to fight a complaint about the safety of one of its products in secret.

A three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the possible injury to a company’s reputation does not justify sealing court records.

The case involves a company that sued to keep a complaint about one of its products out of a database created by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2011. The product was blamed for the death of an infant.

U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. in Maryland allowed the company to sue under the pseudonym “Company Doe” and sealed the case. The appeals court returned the case to Williams with orders to unseal it.

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