United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE PLAINTIFFS MOTION
TO SEAL RE: ECF NO. 175
BEELER, United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiffs filed an administrative motion to file under seal
several documents concerning approval of minor C.M.'s
settlement. Specifically, they seek to remove from the
court's docket and file under seal (1) their
attorney's verified petition for approval of the
settlement, ECF No. 168-1; (2) C.M.'s parents'
declaration in support of that petition, ECF No. 168-2; (3)
their proposed order filed with the petition, ECF No. 170;
and (4) the court's order approving the settlement, ECF
No. 171. At minimum, they say, if the court grants
the motion but determines that its order approving the
settlement must be kept public, “the identity of the
minor's school” at page 3 of that order and the
settlement amounts should be redacted. The plaintiffs
assert that these documents “must be sealed to protect
the minor's identity because identification of the minor
is reasonably certain.”
request to file under seal “must be narrowly tailored
to seek sealing only of sealable material, ” and a
party must file a declaration explaining why the target
material is sealable. Civil L.R. 79-5(b), (d)(1)(A).
Explanations need not be lengthy but they must describe why
the material is sealable. See generally id.;
Kamakana v. City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d
1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 2006). For material attached to
non-dispositive motions, a party must make a
“particularized showing” that “good
cause” exists to seal the material in question.
Id. Where, as here, the material is attached to a
dispositive motion, the party “must meet the high
threshold of showing that ‘compelling reasons'
support [sealing].” Id.; see M.P. ex. rel.
Provins v. Lowe's Cos., Inc., No.
2:11-cv-01985-GEB-CKD, 2012 WL 1574801, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May
3, 2012) (“Because approval of the Application [for
Approval of Minor's Settlement] is dispositive, the
compelling reasons standard applies to Defendant's motion
party satisfies its burden and overcomes the strong
presumption favoring public access to judicial records, it
must also comply with the court's procedural rules.
See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178; Civil L.R. 79-5.
These rules require, among other things, that parties file
both a redacted version of the target documents
(i.e., the version that will appear in the public
record) and an unredacted version that “indicate[s], by
highlighting or other clear method, the portions of the
document that have been omitted from the redacted version . .
. .” Civil L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(D).
the plaintiffs seek to file under seal, in their entirety,
four documents because identification of C.M. is reasonably
certain. Identification is reasonably certain, they
say, “given identification of the minor and his
parents' initials in relation to the Lafayette School
District and the parents' active involvement in the small
community of parents and educators in the school
district's community.” They assert such
identification “is not a proper topic for public
access, ” and that “[l]ittle, if any, interest in
public information access . . . weighs against sealing the
subject documents.” They argue that information regarding
the school district's expenditures (e.g. in
litigating and settling the case) is available in other
court recognizes the important interest in protecting the
minor's identity. But the plaintiffs have not shown
compelling reasons to justify sealing the four documents in
the information that will supposedly lead to the minor's
identification - the minor and parents' initials
“in relation to the Lafayette School District” -
is already in the public record.The inclusion of that
information here cannot be expected to identify the child any
more than the other filings in the case.
if there is new, not-before-disclosed information that could
identify C.M., the plaintiffs have the burden of specifically
identifying that information for sealing (i.e. by
redaction). This may, for example, include C.M.'s new
school. But the inclusion of such limited facts
does not justify sealing the documents in their entirety - a
sealing request must be “narrowly tailored.”
if the plaintiffs wish to seal specific information that is
(1) not already in the public record and (2) could identify
C.M., they must re-file their motion. In it, they must comply
with Local Rule 79-5 and must include redacted versions of
the documents and unredacted versions that indicate, by
highlighting, the “the portions of the document that
have been omitted from the redacted version.” Civil
L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(C)-(D). And if they wish to keep the
settlement value under seal - a fact that apparently has no
bearing on C.M.'s identity - they must provide a
compelling reason for doing so. (They should also consider
that, as they point out in their motion, this information
“can be determined from other public records that are
court denies the plaintiffs motion to seal without prejudice.
 Motion to Seal - ECF No. 175.