The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry Ted Moskowitz, Chief Judge United States District Court
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PARTIES' JOINT MOTIONS FOR LEAVE TO FILE UNDER SEAL
Plaintiff KITE SHIPPING LLC, Intervening Plaintiff, CARDINAL SHIPPING LLC, and Purported Garnishee MANDARIN FORTUNE SHIPPING PTE. LTD. ("MFS") (hereinafter collectively "the Parties") have filed three joints motions for leave to file under seal, collectively, the following documents: Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the Court's order adopting the Magistrate Judge's order vacating attachment ("Motion for Reconsideration"), MFS's opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration ("Opposition"), Plaintiffs' reply memorandum in further support of the Motion for Reconsideration ("Reply"), and all accompanying declarations and exhibits.
The first motion, filed on September 21, 2012, requests leave to file under seal: 1) the Motion for Reconsideration, 2) the supporting declaration by George M. Chalos ("Chalos Declaration"), and 3) all accompanying exhibits (Ex. A-H). This motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
The second motion, filed on September 28, 2012, requests leave to file under seal:
1) the Opposition, as well as evidentiary objections to the Chalos Declaration, 2) the supporting declarations by Zhang Lanshui ("Zhang Declaration") and Andre M. Picciurro ("Picciurro Declaration"), and 3) all accompanying exhibits (Ex. A-E). This motion is DENIED.
The third motion, filed on October 12, 2012, requests leave to file under seal: 1) the Reply, and responses to MFS's evidentiary objections, 2) the supplemental declaration by George M. Chalos ("Supplemental Chalos Declaration"), 3) the two accompanying exhibits (Ex. A & B). This motion is DENIED.
The courts in this country recognize a "general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents." Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978). Unless a court record falls within the limited category of records "traditionally kept secret," a "strong presumption in favor of access is the starting point." Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006). While the Ninth Circuit has carved out an exception to the presumption of public access where "a party attaches a sealed discovery document to a nondispositive motion," Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir.2002), it has not yet ruled on whether discovery documents subject to a stipulated protective order and attached to a nondispositive motion fall within this exception. See In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, 661 F.3d 417 (9th Cir. 2011).
In general, however, while the "fruits of pretrial discovery are, in the absence of a court order to the contrary, presumptively public," a district court may override this presumption under Rule 26(c) where "good cause" is shown. San Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 187 F.3d 1096, 1103 (9th Cir.1999). According to Rule 26(c), "[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense ...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c). "Good cause" requires a showing that specific prejudice or harm will result if the records are not sealed. See Phillips, 307 F.3d at 1210-11; Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 475-76 (9th Cir.1992).
While the burden for showing good cause is lower than for the compelling reasons standard, "'[b]road allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning, do not satisfy the Rule 26(c) test.'" Beckman, 966 F.2d at 476. A blanket protective order is not itself sufficient to show good cause for sealing particular documents. See Foltz v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1133 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[A] party seeking the protection of the court via a blanket protective order typically does not make a 'good cause' showing required by Rule 26(c) with respect to any particular document."). See also Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1183; Beckman, 966 F.2d at 475-76.
The Parties seek to file under seal Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration, MFS's Opposition, Plaintiffs' Reply, and all accompanying declarations and exhibits, based on the Parties' stipulated protective order and their assertions that the documents "reveal commercially sensitive information." Each motion will be discussed in turn.
A. First Motion (September ...