North Carolina Business Litigation Report

State ex rel. Cooper v. McClure, January 4, 2007 (Tennille)(unpublished)

The Court granted a Motion for Protective Order preventing Defendant from determining the identity of a confidential informant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  The Court found that the identity of the confidential informant was "of no consequence to the issues in this case."  The Court further found that there was good cause for the entry of the Protective Order, holding:

Here, the burdens of the proposed discovery greatly outweigh any benefits, and Plaintiffs have demonstrated good cause for the entry of a protective order. The most significant burden of forcing DENR to reveal the identity of the informant is the chilling effect such a ruling would have on potential informants. The Court wishes to encourage individuals who believe a fraud is being committed on the state to present such information to the proper authorities. Without the promise of confidentiality, such individuals are less likely to come forward. There may be instances in which circumstances require disclosure of the identity of a confidential informant under the discovery rules, but this is not one of them. Here, where the Defendants already know the substance of the informant’s communications and have demonstrated no genuine need for the informant’s identity, the Court is unwilling to erode the incentives offered to the public to speak out when they observe a possible fraud on their government.

Full Opinion

Brief in Support of Motion for Protective Order

Reply Brief in Support of Motion for Protective Order

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Mack Sperling
Brooks Pierce, LLP
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