Amtrak agreed to a confidential settlement with two PA teens who suffered massive burns in 2002 after they climbed aboard a parked railcar and stepped too close to a live wire. Part of the settlement calls for the trial judge to vacate prior rulings in the case, and have them erased from Lexis and Westlaw.
The August 10 order to vacate, issued by US District Judge Lawrence Stengel, stated that "by separate written communication . . . the Court shall direct LexisNexis and Westlaw to remove the Decisions and Orders listed below from their respective legal research services/databases."
How could such an order be enforced against an entity that wasn't party to the suit, not to mention the First Amendment defenses that would save them in a contempt proceeding?
A Westlaw rep told The Legal Intelligencer that the company automatically clears vacated opinions from the database - but that can't be right since I've got a pile of vacated Westlaw cases sitting on my desk. Nevertheless, the Klein docs have been removed, so it appears they took the easy road in deciding to comply with the judge's . . . order, request, direction . . . or whatever you call it.
As of yesterday, the opinions were still widely available on other sites. Volokh links to some of them at this post, saying they should be preserved for future litigators and scholars. I'm not so altruistic. I just think the order, if anything more than a non-binding suggestion, is an absurd breach of the First Amendment. So I'll link to them below, via the hard-drive PDFs I created yesterday, at the off chance they start disappearing from the web.