A company that fought vigorously in court to maintain its anonymity amid a push to keep a consumer product safety report secret has revealed itself.
The company, Ergobaby, a leading manufacturer of baby carriers, had litigated under the pseudonym “Company Doe” in a suit against the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The company on Thursday disclosed its identity—just weeks after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said a trial judge improperly allowed the company to shield its name from the public.
A U.S. district court judge in Maryland, where Ergobaby filed suit, is expected to make documents in the case public within days. Many of the court papers in Ergobaby’s case against the commission—which sought to publish an incident report on saferproducts.gov about the death of an infant—were filed under seal.
Ergobaby, represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, had argued the disclosure of its name would harm the manufacturer’s reputation. The company successfully blocked the product safety commission from posting the incident safety report on the government-run online database.
Consumer advocates urged the Fourth Circuit to shine a light on the case—to disclose the company’s name and to unseal court documents.
Gibson partner Baruch Fellner said Thursday that the uncloaking of Ergobaby wasn’t a loss for the company. Ergobaby has a “spotless record” that the litigation didn’t tarnish, he said.
The litigation, Fellner said, revealed that the safety report about the infant’s death was inaccurate. The report, filed by a local government agency, claimed Ergobaby’s carrier caused the death.
“We fought the good fight in the name of consumers to protect a perfectly safe product,” Fellner said.
Scott Michelman, an attorney at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which challenged the sealing of the court records, said his organization is looking forward to the release of documents in the case.
“If companies like Ergobaby are able to litigate in secret, the Consumer Product Safety Information Database would be undermined,” he said.
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