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Arnaudov v. California Delta Mechanical, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 7, 2015

MARTIN ARNAUDOV, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CALIFORNIA DELTA MECHANICAL, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER RE: SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT Re: Dkt. Nos. 132, 140

NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is Delta's and plaintiffs' motion for approval of settlement of claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Private Attorneys General Act. As part of the supplemental memorandum in support of this motion, the parties also filed a motion to seal certain terms of the settlement agreement. Dkt. No. 140. As to this latter motion, the issue is whether the parties have shown compelling reasons to overcome the presumption of public access and to warrant redacting portions of the settlement agreement. Because Delta and plaintiffs have failed to articulate any compelling reason why parts of the settlement agreement should be redacted, the Court DENIES the parties' motion to seal without prejudice.

Furthermore, because the parties failed to follow the local rules governing administrative motions to seal and did not file an unredacted version of the settlement agreement for the Court's review, the Court DENIES Delta's and plaintiffs' motion for approval of settlements of FLSA and PAGA claims without prejudice.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

There is a presumption of public access to judicial records and documents. Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978). Therefore, a party must demonstrate "compelling reasons" to seal judicial records attached to a dispositive motion. Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006). A party seeking to file a motion to seal in connection with a non-dispositive motion, however, must show "good cause" under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). In re Midland Nat'l Life Ins. Co. Annuity Sales Practices Litig., 686 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012); Pintos v. P. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) ("In light of the weaker public interest in nondispositive materials, we apply the good cause' standard when parties wish to keep them under seal.").

In any case, "the party seeking protection bears the burden of showing specific prejudice or harm will result, " Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 2002), and must make a "particularized showing... with respect to any individual document, " San Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, N. Dist. (San Jose), 187 F.3d 1096, 1103 (9th Cir. 1999). "Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning" are insufficient. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992).

Furthermore, "[a] sealing order may issue only upon a request that establishes that the document, or portions thereof, are privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law." Civ. L.R. 79-5(b). Requests to file under seal must be "narrowly tailored, " id., and must be accompanied by "[a] declaration establishing that the document sought to be filed under seal, or portions thereof, are sealable." Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(A). "Reference to a stipulation... that allows a party to designate certain documents as confidential is not sufficient to establish that a document, or portions thereof, are sealable." Id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Failure to Attach Sealed, Unredacted Version

Under Civil Local Rule 79-5(d)(1)(D), an unredacted version of the document sought to be filed under seal must be filed electronically under seal as an attachment to the administrative motion to seal. Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(D). Indeed, the "[i]nstructions for e-filing documents under seal can be found on the ECF website." Id. In addition, the "unredacted version must indicate, by highlighting or other clear method, the portions of the document that have been omitted from the redacted version...." Id. Moreover, parties that seek to file documents under seal must attach a proposed order that "lists in table format each document or portion thereof that is sought to be sealed." Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(B) (emphasis added).

Here, while Delta and plaintiffs electronically filed a redacted version of the settlement agreement, " Dkt. No. 140-2-2, their motion to seal does not include the unredacted version with highlights of the redacted portions. See Dkt. No. 5. In the proposed order for the sealing motion, Delta and plaintiffs also fail to list the portions of the document it wishes to seal in table format. Dkt. No. 137.

This failure to comply with the local rules will not do.

Accordingly, the Court orders Delta and plaintiffs to either publicly file an unredacted version of the settlement agreement or electronically file an administrative motion to seal portions of the settlement agreement. Any administrative motion to seal should be filed separately from its motion for ...


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