Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

General Electric Company et al v. Thomas Wilkins

May 30, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge


I. Background

Before the Court, is the request to seal documents filed jointly by all parties to this litigation. Notably, the parties seek an order sealing the not yet filed joint statement re: discovery dispute, three "zip-files" containing 36 exhibits and 11 "zip files" containing 74 exhibits, many of which are nearly 50 pages long.*fn1 Not one of the lodged documents demonstrates, through highlighting, by reference to particular line numbers or otherwise, the specific information sought to be sealed. The parties seek to file several of the same exhibits more than once or seek to file portions of the same exhibits more than once. One exhibit has been filed already on the public docket in the Southern District of Texas.

Despite this, inexplicably, the parties seek an order sealing this and similar documents which are 2 already on public view. Another document has already been filed under seal by this Court. *fn2

In so requesting, it appears to the Court that the parties are under the mistaken belief that they are entitled to a sealing order because they make no attempt whatsoever to demonstrate why the 5 lodged exhibits should be filed under seal. Indeed, the parties assert only that the exhibits "contain 6 confidential business information." (Doc. 333 at 2) However, this claim is belied, for example, by the 7 fact that many of the exhibits do not contain substantive information or they already exist in the public 8 domain. Thus, the parties seem to be under the mistaken impression that it is left to the Court to 9 examine every one of the documents submitted to decide, based upon its own rationale-without benefit of any legal authority, analysis or citation to specific portions of the protective order --whether the data should be sealed. Alternatively, the parties believe that, rather than requesting*fn3 the Court seal specific portions of specific documents for specific reasons, the Court is required to seal any document they agree should be sealed. Either way, the parties are incorrect.*fn4

Because the parties have not provided any analysis or legal authority that justifies the information being filed under seal, the Court, clearly, acts within its authority to deny the request outright. However, having been exposed to this case for some time, the Court is keenly aware of the sensitivity of some of the information at issue. Thus, the Court has undertaken an in camera review of the materials and has attempted to discern-without any assistance by counsel--which information truly is deserving of being shielded from the public view. In doing so, the Court determines here that any arguments that could have been raised to justify sealing the information have been waived by the 2 parties‟ failure to raise them.

II. Analysis

A motion to seal documents that are not part of the judicial record, such as "private materials unearthed during discovery," is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). Pintos v. Pac. 6 Creditors Ass‟n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), 7 the Court may issue orders to "protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, 8 or undue burden or expense, including . . . requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, 9 development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way." To make the determination whether documents should be sealed, the Court must evaluate whether ""good cause‟ exists to protect th[e] information from being disclosed to the public by balancing the needs for discovery against the need for confidentiality.‟" Pintos, 605 F.3d at 678 (quoting Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002)).

Generally, documents filed in civil cases are presumed to be available to the public. EEOC v. Erection Co., 900 F.2d 168, 170 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir.2006); Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1134 (9th Cir.2003). Documents may be sealed only when the compelling reasons for doing so outweigh the public‟s right of access. EEOC at 170. To determine whether such documents should be sealed, the Court is to evaluate factors including, the "public interest in understanding the judicial process and whether disclosure of the material could result in improper use of the material for scandalous or libelous purposes or infringement upon trade secrets." Valley Broadcasting Co. v. United States District Court, 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986).

After the Court‟s review, it finds that certain of the information detailed below, in fact, reveals confidential, non-public information about GE‟s and Mitsubishi‟s corporate operations. As to this information, the request is GRANTED. However, as to any information that is non-substantive or is already in the public view, the request is DENIED.


Based upon the foregoing, the Court ORDERS:

1. No exhibit to the current discovery dispute shall be filed more than one time nor shall 4 any portion of any exhibit be filed more than one time; 5

2. The joint request to seal is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:

a. As to Exhibits 6, 18, 63 and 66, the request is GRANTED;

b. The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to file these exhibits under seal;

c. As to Exhibits 3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 15, 18, 24, 25, 29, 43, 45, 46, 58, 47, 50, 65 and 69, the request to seal ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.