The parties in a case involving Philadelphia gun license applicants whose information was
made public via the Internet in violation of state law have agreed to seal the litigation because of its confidential nature.
The court docket in the case of John Doe 1 et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al. shows that a stipulation was filed on Dec. 12 reflecting the fact that attorneys for both sides have agreed to shield the identities of the plaintiffs from public view.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys pushed to have the record sealed because the very nature of the case involves allegations that the plaintiffs, all of whom either had their License to Carry Firearms applications denied or their existing licenses revoked by authorities, were identified through the website of the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, which is also named as a defendant in the suit.
The website displayed the names, addresses and reasons for license application denial or license revocation, a disclosure that the plaintiffs contend was illegal, since, under state law, LTCF information is supposed to remain private.
Area attorneys Joshua Prince, Jonathan Goldstein and Ben Picker filed suit last month against the city, L&I, the police department’s Gun Permits Unit and others, contending that the city and its agencies violated Section 6111(i) of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act when it published online the information of the plaintiffs and others.
The information was eventually taken down at the request of Philadelphia Police officials, who said there were public safety concerns with regard to publishing such information.
Both sides were expected to be in front of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge Leon Tucker on Dec. 11 to address the plaintiffs’ motion to seal the case, but the hearing was canceled at the last minute because the parties agreed to have the case sealed.
It is unclear when Tucker would officially rule on the motion.
The stipulation, however, which was filed in the court docket, and thus became public record, states that the plaintiffs’ attorneys and Amanda Shoffel, the assistant deputy solicitor who has been assigned to represent the defendants, agree that the “parties are best served by the motion being granted, as it will provide protection of potential privacy/confidentiality rights and further facilitate open discussion of Plaintiffs’ allegations and potential resolution of those allegations by the Parties.”
The stipulation also says that both sides believe the granting of the motion also promotes “judicial efficiency,” and that none of the parties know of any involved or uninvolved party or person/entity having any objection to the court granting the motion to seal.
City attorneys, however, state in the motion that their agreeing to go along with sealing the record is not to be construed as an admission that the plaintiffs’ names or information is confidential, pursuant to Section 6111 of the UFA.
“The Defendants agreement to the granting of this Motion shall not be otherwise used or relied upon in relation to the allegations or claims made by Plaintiffs in their Complaint,” the stipulation reads.
The stipulation was signed by both Prince and Shoffel.