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Koloff v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Dba Metlife, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 9, 2014

SHEEMA KOLOFF, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY dba MetLife, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S REQUEST TO SEAL DOCUMENTS (Doc. 25)

JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Before Court is the request of Defendants to seal 197 pages of the Administrative Record developed in this case. For the reasons set forth below, the request is GRANTED IN PART.

I. Legal Authority

The request to seal documents is controlled by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). The Rule permits the Court to issue orders to "protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including... requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way." Only if good cause exists may the Court seal the information from public view after balancing "the needs for discovery against the need for confidentiality.'" Pintos v. P. Creditors Ass'n , 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) (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. In evaluating the request, the Court considers the "public interest in understanding the judicial process" against the private interests of the litigants. Valley Broadcasting Co. v. United States District Court , 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986).

Here, Met Life asserts it seeks to seal information related to Plaintiff's medical condition as well as her social security number and other personal information. This information is properly sealed. Id .; In re Spalding Sports Worldwide, Inc. , 203 F.3d 805, 806 (Fed. Cir. 2000); China Intl Travel Servs. (USA) v. China & Asia Travel Serv., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106622 at *29 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 18, 2008); Mine O'Mine, Inc. v. Calmese, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53077 at *10 (D. Nev. Apr. 16, 2012).

However, as to many of the documents lodged, Defendant fails to explain why they should be sealed. Moreover, the redacted versions of these documents fail to show that any redaction occurred. Thus, the Court cannot speculate as to why Defendant sought to have these documents sealed. Thus, Defendant's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.[1]

ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, the Court ORDERS:

1. The motion is GRANTED as to the following pages and the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to file the unredacted versions of these documents under seal:

a. Documents numbered 004-024, 026, 028-036, 038, 040-043, 045-068, 070, 073, 077-083, 085-087, 089, 092-109, 111-156, 158, 160-165, 167-182, 184-190, 192-193;

2. The motion is DENIED as to the following pages:

a. Documents numbered 001-003, 025, 027, 037, 039, 044, 069, 071-072, 074-076, 084, 088, 090-091, 110, 157, 159, 166, 183, 191, 194-197;

3. The motion is DENIED as to the declaration of James Hazlehurst and Defendant is ORDERED to file it on the public docket within one court day;

4. As to the Documents set forth in paragraph 1.a. above, Defendant is ORDERED to file the redacted versions of these documents on the public docket within one court day;

5. As to the Documents set forth in paragraph 1.b. above, Defendant is ORDERED to file the unredacted versions of these documents on the public docket within one court day.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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