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Werdebaugh v. Blue Diamond Growers

United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division

December 15, 2014

CHRIS WERDEBAUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
BLUE DIAMOND GROWERS, Defendant.

ORDER RE SEALING MOTIONS Re: Dkt. Nos. 164, 165, 177, 179, 185, 186

LUCY H. KOH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Before the Court are administrative motions to seal brought by Defendant Blue Diamond Growers (“Defendant” or “Blue Diamond”), ECF Nos. 164, [1] 165, 179, and by Plaintiff Chris Werdebaugh (“Plaintiff” or “Werdebaugh”), ECF Nos. 177, 185, 186. The parties seek to seal briefing and exhibits filed by the parties in connection with Defendant’s motion to decertify, ECF No. 167, and Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 166.

“Historically, courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.’” Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 & n.7 (1978)). Accordingly, when considering a sealing request, “a strong presumption in favor of access is the starting point.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

Parties seeking to seal judicial records relating to dispositive motions bear the burden of overcoming the presumption with “compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings” that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178–79. Compelling reasons justifying the sealing of court records generally 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 secret.” Id. at 1179 (quoting Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598). However, “[t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. Dispositive motions include “motions for summary judgment.” Id.

Records attached to nondispositive motions are not subject to the strong presumption of access. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Because the documents attached to nondispositive motions “are often unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action, ” parties moving to seal must meet the lower “good cause” standard of Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. at 1179–80 (internal quotation marks omitted). The “good cause” standard requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992). In general, motions for class certification and motions to decertify are considered nondispositive. See In re High-Tech Emp. Antitrust Litig., No. 11-CV-02509-LHK, 2013 WL 5486230, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013) (“As Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification is a non-dispositive motion, the Court finds that the parties need only demonstrate ‘good cause’ in order to support their requests to seal.”).

Pursuant to Rule 26(c), a trial court has broad discretion to permit sealing of court documents for, inter alia, the protection of “a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(G). The Ninth Circuit has adopted the definition of “trade secrets” set forth in the Restatement of Torts, holding that “[a] trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in one’s business, and which gives him an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.” Clark v. Bunker, 453 F.2d 1006, 1009 (9th Cir. 1972) (quoting Restatement (First) of Torts § 757 cmt. b). “Generally [a trade secret] relates to the production of goods. . . . It may, however, relate to the sale of goods or to other operations in the business. . . .” Id. (ellipses in original). In addition, the Supreme Court has recognized that sealing may be justified to prevent judicial documents from being used “as sources of business information that might harm a litigant’s competitive standing.” Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598.

In addition, parties moving to seal documents must comply with the procedures established by Civil Local Rule 79-5. Pursuant to that rule, a sealing order is appropriate only upon a request that establishes the document is “sealable, ” or “privileged or protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law.” Civ. L. R. 79-5(b). “The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material, and must conform with Civil L.R. 79-5(d).” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5(d), moreover, requires the submitting party to attach a “proposed order that is narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable material” and that “lists in table format each document or portion thereof that is sought to be sealed, ” as well as an “unredacted version of the document” that “indicate[s], by highlighting or other clear method, the portions of the document that have been omitted from the redacted version.” Id. R. 79-5(d)(1). “Within 4 days of the filing of the Administrative Motion to File Under Seal, the Designating Party must file a declaration as required by subsection 79-5(d)(1)(A) establishing that all of the designated material is sealable.” Id. R. 79-5(e)(1).

Below, the Court applies the “good cause” standard to the parties’ requests to seal documents in connection with Defendant’s motion to decertify and the “compelling reasons” standard to Defendant’s request to seal documents in connection with its motion for summary judgment. With these standards in mind, the Court rules on the instant motion as follows:

Motion to Seal

Standard

Document to be Sealed or Redactions to be Made

Ruling

165

Good Cause

Motion to decertify

GRANTED as to proposed redactions.

165

Good Cause

Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Geoffrey R. Pittman in Support of Defendant Blue Diamond Growers’ Motion to Decertify the Rule 23(b)(3) Damages Class: Expert Report of Dr. Oral Capps, Jr.

GRANTED as to proposed redactions.

165

Good Cause

Exhibit 2 to the Declaration of Geoffrey R. Pittman in Support of Defendant Blue Diamond Growers’ Motion to Decertify the Rule 23(b)(3) Damages Class: Rebuttal Expert Report of Keith R. Ugone, Ph.D.

GRANTED as to proposed redactions.

165

Compelling Reasons

Exhibit A to the Declaration of Megan Oliver Thompson in Support of Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment in the Alternative: Expert Report of Dr. Julie Caswell.

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Defendant requested sealing of third-party consumer market surveys based on Plaintiff’s designation of this material as confidential. Neither party has shown a compelling reason to seal this information.

177

Good Cause

Exhibit B:Second Supplemental Expert Report of Dr. Oral Capps, Jr. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE because Plaintiff’s request is not narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable material that the Exhibits may contain. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(b).For example, while specific figures may be sealed, there is no need to seal the title or the variables that are disclosed in public filings.

177

Good Cause

Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Decertification

GRANTED as to proposed reactions.

179

Good Cause

Reply in Support of Motion to Decertify the Rule 23(b)(3) Damages Class

GRANTED as to proposed redactions.

179

Good Cause

Declaration of Dr. Keith Ugone in Response to Dr. Oral Capps’ Second Supplemental Expert Report

GRANTED as to proposed redactions.

185

Compelling Reasons

Exhibit 3 Expert Report of Dr. Oral Capps

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE because Plaintiff’s request is not narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable material that the Exhibits may contain. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(b).For example, while specific figures may be sealed, there is no need to seal the title or information such as the months or dates.

185

Compelling Reasons

Exhibit 5Second Supplemental Expert Report of Dr. Oral Capps

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE because Plaintiff’s request is not narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable material that the Exhibits may contain. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(b).Some proposed redactions include information neither party has requested toseal in other exhibits.

185

Compelling Reasons

Expert Report of Dr. Julie Caswell

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for the same reason as Defendant’s request to seal the same portions of this report. Seeinfra; ECF No. 165.

186

Compelling Reasons

Excerpts of Bill Ng Deposition

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiff has failed to offer any specific, compelling reason why portions of Billy Ng’s deposition should be sealed. If Defendant is the designating party, it failed to file a supporting declaration as required by Civ. L.R.79-5(e)(1).

186

Compelling Reasons

Blue Diamond Documents 483–90

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiff has failed to offer any specific, compelling reason why these documents should be sealed in their totality.If Defendant is the designatingparty, it failed to file a supporting declaration as required by Civ. L.R.79-5(e)(1).

186

Compelling Reasons

Blue Diamond Documents33–40 and 140–44

DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiff has failed to offer any specific, compelling reason why these documents should be sealed in their totality.If Defendant is the designatingparty, it failed to file a supporting declaration as required by Civ. L.R.79-5(e)(1).

IT IS SO ORDERED


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