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Vietnam Veterans of America; Swords To Plowshares v. Central Intelligence Agency

March 29, 2012

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA; SWORDS TO PLOWSHARES: VETERANS RIGHTS ORGANIZATION; BRUCE PRICE;
FRANKLIN D. ROCHELLE;
LARRY MEIROW; ERIC P. MUTH;
DAVID C. DUFRANE;
TIM MICHAEL JOSEPHS; AND
WILLIAM BLAZINSKI, INDIVIDUALLY, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY;
DAVID H. PETRAEUS, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY;
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE;
LEON E. PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE;
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY;
JOHN M. MCHUGH, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE ARMY;
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES;
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; AND
ERIC K. SHINSEKI, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART, AND DENYING IN PART, DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO SEAL (Docket No. 368)

Defendants have submitted an administrative motion seeking to 22 file under seal the following documents: (1) their unredacted 23 Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification; 24 (2) portions of Exhibits 20, 24, and 51 attached to the 25 Declaration of Kimberly L. Herb, submitted in support of their 26 Opposition; and (3) Exhibits 18-19, 48-49, 52, 55-59, 63-70, 77, 27 28 78, 80, and 82 to the Herb declaration in their entirety.*fn1

Defendants represent that Plaintiffs have designated Exhibits 52 3 and 56-58 as confidential. Plaintiffs have submitted a 4 declaration in support of the sealing of Exhibits 52, 56-58 and 80 5 and the portions of Defendants' opposition that refer to Exhibits 6 52 and 56-58. Plaintiffs also ask that unredacted versions of 7

Exhibits 21, 33 and 34 to the Herb declaration be filed under seal 8 and that redacted versions thereof be placed in the public record. 9 Having reviewed the papers submitted by the parties and the 10 exhibits that they seek to file under seal, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion.

Because the public interest favors filing all court documents 13 in the public record, any party seeking to file a document under 14 seal must demonstrate good cause to do so. Pintos v. Pac. 15 Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). This cannot 16 be established simply by showing that the document is subject to a 17 protective order or by stating in general terms that the material 18 is considered to be confidential, but rather must be supported by 19 a sworn declaration demonstrating with particularity the need to 20 file each document under seal. See Civil Local Rule 79-5(a). If 21 a document has been designated as confidential by another party, 22 23 that party must file a declaration establishing that the document 2 is sealable. Civil Local Rule 79-5(d). 3

Plaintiffs represent that they seek to seal Exhibits 52 and 56-58, because these exhibits are "excerpts of deposition 5 testimony of third-party putative class members" and "information 6 relating to the privacy and/or past, present, or future physical 7 or mental health or condition of persons not specifically made 8 public in the Complaint in this action." Patterson Decl. ¶ 3. 9

They also note that this Court has previously sealed excerpts of 10 testimony from the same deponents. Id. (citing Docket No. 352 at 2). Accordingly, Plaintiffs have provided good cause to seal Exhibits 52 and 56-58. 13

Plaintiffs also seek to seal the unredacted versions of Exhibits 21, 33, and 34. Plaintiffs state that these exhibits 15 contain social security numbers, claims numbers and addresses of 16 Plaintiffs Tim Josephs and William Blazinski. Patterson Decl. 17 ¶¶ 5-8. The Court finds good cause for this personally 18 identifying information to be redacted from these exhibits when 19 they are filed in the public record. Because the redacted 20 information is not material to this motion, unredacted versions of 21 these exhibits need not be filed under seal. 22

Defendants represent that they are seeking to seal Exhibits

18-19, 48-49, 55, 59, 67-70, 77, 78, 80, and 82, because these 24 exhibits contain records with identifying and sensitive personal 25 information about certain individuals, including health records. 26

Littleton Decl. ¶ 2. Plaintiffs join in Defendants' request to 27 seal Exhibit 80. Patterson Decl. ¶ 10. Having reviewed the 28 records, the Court finds that Defendants have provided good cause 2 to seal Exhibits 18-19, 48-49, 55, 59, 77, 78, and 80. 3

Defendants, however, have not provided good cause to support 4 the sealing of Exhibits 67-70 in their entirety. The Court notes 5 that, in their declaration, Defendants state that Exhibits 67-70 6 contain copies of the service member test files of four named 7

Plaintiffs to this action. Littleton Decl. ¶¶ 18-21. However, in 8 the exhibits provided to the Court, Defendants did not include the 9 test files themselves; instead, they included only cover letters 10 that appear to have been sent to the respective named Plaintiffs along with copies of the test files. Because these cover letters contain addresses of these named Plaintiffs, the Court finds good 13 cause for Defendants to file redacted versions of these exhibits, 14 omitting the addresses, in the public record. Because the 15 redacted information is not material to this motion, Defendants 16 need not file unredacted versions of these exhibits under seal. 17

Defendants have also not provided good cause to support the 18 sealing of Exhibit 82 in its entirety. Exhibit 82 contains what 19 appears to be a form ...


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