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Watts v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.

July 28, 2010

SHELIA WATTS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY; SYSTEMS INTEGRATION & MANAGEMENT WELFARE BENEFIT PLAN; SYSTEMS INTEGRATION & MANAGEMENT, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Q. Hayes United States District Judge

ORDER

HAYES, Judge

The matter before the Court is Plaintiff's Second Application to File Documents Under Seal or in the Alternative to Designate Documents as Not Confidential. (Doc. # 50).

BACKGROUND

On April 20, 2009, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint. (Doc. # 1). Plaintiff's action arises under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). Id. at 1. On April 2, 2010, the Magistrate Judge issued an order on the confidentiality of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's ("MetLife") proprietary business information which Plaintiff sought in discovery. (Doc. # 35). The order, which ratifies a stipulation agreed upon by Plaintiff and MetLife, holds that the documents at issue are confidential pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). Id. at 2. The order states in part:

If any party wishes to use Confidential Information during any motion practice or trial of this action, they will submit such materials under seal, pursuant to the Local Rules of this Court. Documents filed with the Court that are designated Confidential or contain or discuss Confidential Information shall be filed under seal and kept under seal absent a further order of the Court. Where possible, however, only the Confidential portions of filings with the Court shall be filed under seal. . . .

No document shall be filed under seal unless counsel secures a court order allowing the filing of a document under seal. An application to file a document under seal shall be served on opposing counsel, and on the person or entity of the document, if different from opposing counsel. If opposing counsel, or the person or entity who has custody and control of the document, wishes to oppose the application, he/she must contact the chambers of the judge who will rule on the application to notify the judge's staff that an opposition to the application will be filed.

Id. at 2-3.

On June 16, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Application to File Documents Under Seal. (Doc. # 42). On June 24, 2010, the Court denied the application without prejudice in an order which states in part:

The Application identifies excerpts from three exhibits which Plaintiff wishes to file under seal pursuant to the Magistrate Judge's April 2, 2010 Order of Confidentiality. Id. Plaintiff did not provide the Court with copies of the documents with this Court or provide any reasons to seal the documents in spite of the strong presumption in favor of public access to court records. See Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003).

(Doc. # 47).

On July 14, 2010, Plaintiff filed her Second Application to File Documents Under Seal or in the Alternative to Designate Documents as Not Confidential. (Doc. # 50). Plaintiff provided a copy of the documents at issue to the Court. The same day, Defendants filed an Ex Parte Motion for Order Allowing Defendants and Counterclaimants to Respond. (Doc. # 51). On July 15, 2010, the Court granted Defendants' motion via minute entry and allowed it to file a response on or before July 19, 2010. (Doc. # 52). On July 19, 2010, Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's request for alternative relief designating the documents not confidential. (Doc. # 53).

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff seeks permission to file internal documents related to MetLife's claims processing under seal pursuant to the Magistrate Judge's April 2, 2010 order. (Doc. # 50). In the alternative, Plaintiff requests that if the Court determines that the documents are not confidential, that the Court make a specific ...


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