United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SEAL RE: DKT.
ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is defendant’s administrative motion
to seal a document in support of its motion to dismiss.
Docket No. 323. Having considered the papers filed, including
the motion, the declaration of Jenna M. Yott in support of
the motion, and the document proposed to be sealed, the Court
DENIES defendant’s motion without prejudice.
8, 2016, defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(“Wal-Mart”) filed a motion to dismiss, inter
alia, the claims of class member Kevin Putnam. Docket
No. 321. Wal-Mart claims that Putnam “previously agreed
to a general release of all claims against Wal-Mart as part
of a settlement in an unrelated matter, and that release
covers Putnam’s claims in this action.”
Id. at 1.
same day, Wal-Mart filed an administrative motion to seal the
settlement agreement between Putnam and Wal-Mart. Docket No.
323. According to Wal-Mart, during Putnam’s March 2016
deposition, the document “was marked ‘as
confidential pursuant to the [P]rotective [O]rder’ and
plaintiffs’ counsel ‘ask[ed] that it be attached
separately and treated as confidential.’”
Id. at 1. Wal-Mart contends that the document
“contains sensitive information that Mr. Putnam and
Wal-Mart agreed to keep confidential, and the parties would
be harmed if this information were made public.”
Id. Wal-Mart also filed a proposed
“redacted” version of the document, which redacts
the text of the eleven-page document in its entirety.
See Docket No. 323-2.
states that it attempted to meet and confer with
plaintiffs’ counsel regarding the requested relief, but
that it received no response. Id. Plaintiffs filed
no opposition to Wal-Mart’s motion to seal.
the exception of a narrow range of documents that are
“traditionally  kept secret, ” courts begin
their sealing analysis with “a strong presumption in
favor of access to court records.” Foltz v. State
Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1134-35 (9th
Cir. 2003). “Reference to a stipulation or protective
order that allows a party to designate certain documents as
confidential is not sufficient to establish that a document,
or portions thereof, are sealable.” Civ. L.R.
79-5(d)(1)(A). “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). In addition, all requests to file under
seal “must be narrowly tailored, ” such that only
sealable information is sought to be redacted from public
applying to file documents under seal in connection with a
dispositive motion, the party seeking to seal must articulate
“compelling reasons supported by specific factual
findings that outweigh the general history of access and the
public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public
interest in understanding the judicial process.”
Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d
1172, 1178-79 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal quotations and
citations omitted). Where a party seeks to seal documents
attached to a non-dispositive motion, a showing of
“good cause” is sufficient. Id. at
1179-80; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). Because a
motion to dismiss is a dispositive motion, the
“compelling reasons” standard applies here.
See Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Elec-Tech Int'l
Co., No. 14-CV-02737-BLF, 2015 WL 581574, at *1 (N.D.
Cal. Feb. 10, 2015).
Court finds that Wal-Mart has not met its burden to obtain a
sealing order. Wal-Mart offers only that the document sought
to be sealed was designated as confidential pursuant to the
protective order, and that the document “contains
sensitive information.” See Docket No. 323 at
1. However, reference to the protective order “is not
sufficient to establish that a document, or portions thereof,
are sealable.” Civ. L. R. 79-5(d)(1)(A). Wal-Mart makes
no attempt to explain why public filing of the document in
question would cause harm to itself or to Putnam. Wal-Mart
states only that “the parties would be harmed if this
information were made public.” See Docket No.
323 at 2. Wal-Mart fails to offer a “compelling
reason” to overcome strong public policy favoring
disclosure. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178.
Wal-Mart’s proposed redactions are not narrowly
tailored, as Wal-Mart proposes to seal the entirety of the
agreement. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(b); see also
Verinata Health, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc, No.
12-CV-05501-SI, 2015 WL 1885626, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 24,
2015) (denying a motion to seal where defendant “failed
to narrowly tailor its redactions. [Defendant] propose[d] to
seal whole pages of the transcript[.]”).
above reasons, the Court DENIES the motion to seal. Defendant
may file a new motion that complies with Civil Local Rule
79-5. The new motion must indicate why the information is
sealable, must be narrowly tailored to seal only sealable
material (if any), and must ...