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Murdock v. Maybelline, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 21, 2014

YANIRA ALGARIN and PATSY MURDOCK, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
MAYBELLINE, LLC, A New York Limited Liability Company, dba MAYBELLINE NEW YORK, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING THE JOINT MOTION TO FILE DOCUMENTS UNDER SEAL [DOS. No. 60]

ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Parties' Joint Motion to Seal select documents filed in support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. (Doc. No. 61.) On February 20, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification. (Doc. No. 61.) The Motion's Memorandum of Points and Authorities, as well as certain Exhibits attached, contain certain information designated by Defendant as "CONFIDENTIAL" and under a Protective Order entered on July 19, 2013. The Parties now requests the Court to seal those portions pursuant to Local Rule 79.2 and the July 19, 2013 Protective Order. For the following reasons, the Motion to Seal is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

This is a putative class action regarding Defendant Maybelline LLC's ("Defendant") SuperStay 24HR Lipcolor and SuperStay 24HR Makeup products (the "Class Products"). Plaintiffs seek to certify a class alleging violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq. and Consumers Legal Remedies Act ("CRLA"), Civil Code § 1750, et seq., based on Defendant's alleged false advertising of the Class Products. (Doc. No. 47.)

On July 19, 2013, the Parties entered into a Protective Order regarding certain discovery material to be made available by Defendants. The Protective Order permitted the parties and other non parties to designate as "CONFIDENTIAL" documents they, in good faith, believe contains or constitutes: "sensitive personal information; commercial research or development; proprietary business or sales information; or other information required by applicable law or agreement to be kept confidential." (Doc. No. 40.)

The Parties now seek to seal the information those portions Defendant designated as "CONFIDENTIAL" filed with their Motion for Class Certification. Specifically, Defendant's confidential, proprietary, and business information. (Doc. No. 60.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Courts have historically recognized 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 & n. 7 (1978). "Unless a particular court record is one traditionally kept secret, ' a strong presumption in favor of access' is the starting point. Kamakana v. City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). In order to overcome this strong presumption, a party seeking to seal a judicial record must articulate justifications for sealing that outweigh the public policies favoring disclosure. See id. at 1178-79. In turn, the court must "conscientiously balance the competing interests" of the public and the party who seeks to keep certain judicial records secret. Id. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal certain judicial records, it must "base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture." Id. (citing Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)).

On non-dispositive motions, a party seeking to file under seal a document produced under seal in discovery only needs to establish that there is "good cause" for sealing the record. In re Midland Nat. Life Ins. Co. Annuity Sales Practices Litig., 686 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012) ("[A] particularized showing of good cause' under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) is sufficient to preserve the secrecy of sealed discovery documents attached to non-dispositive motion"); see also Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir.2006). Unless the denial of a motion for class certification would constitute the death knell of a case, "the vast majority of []courts within this circuit" treat motions for class certification as non-dispositive motions to which the "good cause" sealing standard applies. Dugan v. Lloyds TSB Bank, PLC, 2013 WL 1435223, *1 (citing In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing Litig., 2012 WL 6561088 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2012)).[1]

A strong presumption of access to judicial records applies fully to dispositve pleadings and their attachments. In the case of motions for class certification, if the motion will affect whether or not the litigation proceeds, then the motion constitutes a dispositive motion for which a party must show "compelling reasons" for sealing the record. See Rosales v. El Rancho Farms, 2014 WL 321159, *3 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2014). In the instant case, it is likely that denial of class certification will sound the "death knell" of the litigation, as Plaintiffs have only alleged de minimis individual damages.[2] Thus, to warrant the Court's grant of the request to seal, the Court must be satisfied that "compelling reasons" exist. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Relevant factors include the "public interest in understanding the judicial process and whether disclosure of the material could result in improper use..." Pintos v. Pacific Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 659 (9th Cir. 2010)(citations omitted). In general, "compelling reasons" sufficient to outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such "court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, " such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

The Parties seek permission to seal the following documents as they allegedly contain Defendant's confidential, proprietary and sensitive business information:

1. Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Patricia N. Syverson in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification ("Early Trier Study");
2. Exhibit 8 to the Declaration of Patricia N. Syverson in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class ...

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